As we near the end of the Easter Season the readings point to what is in store for us as we remain connected and nourished as branches on the vine of Christ. It is through this connection that we experience the Holy Spirit and become fruitful branches. In this weekend’s Gospel the phrase, “bear fruit” is mentioned four times. It is a call to us to be fruitful branches of Christ who is the vine. It is when we accept the Gift of the Holy Spirit and allow these gifts to be part of our lives that we bear fruit.
In the readings three Fruits of the Holy Spirit stand out, Peace, Love (Charity) and Joy. While these three fruits have been trivialized and placed on felt banners, posters and buttons over the past fifty years, this does not take away from the reality that they are Fruits that result from allowing the Holy Spirit to work within our lives.
The reading from Acts describes the Church after the persecutions began. Saul was one of those who zealously tried to put down the spread of Christianity. Saul has a dramatic conversion and becomes known as Paul. In the midst of his conversion, acceptance by the community, and missions there was peace in the church. They were mindful of how they were each connected to Christ and to one another. Jesus is the source of unity, and even in times of questions and struggles if one remains connected to Christ and looks on others with love as brothers and sisters, we are joyful, and unity is present. We have a community in which Peace, love and joy are present.
In the Gospel and letters of John he speaks often of love. It is not a superficial love it is the love that reaches into the very core of our being. A love that we experience and know is present, but can’t always fully articulate. This love comes from the realization that It is God’s, a love that animates within us our ability to love God in return and to love others. It is a love formed on integrity and sacrifice. At times it can be painful, because it beautifully reflects the ultimate act of love, the death of Jesus. We bear this fruit when we begin to let go of ourselves and any attitudes of selfishness and possessiveness. This love fills us with an inner peace and a deep joy.
The final fruit from these readings is Joy. True joy comes from deep within and is a sense that all is well, it is not a fleeting moment of happiness. It is an inner disposition that can be seen and felt by those around us during the happiest moments of our lives, our normal times and even when we might be experiencing some turmoil or crises in our lives. This fruit of joy transcends all other experiences and allows us to move forward joyful of God’s presence. Joy closely follows the presence of Peace and Love in our lives.
During these final few weeks of the Easter Season we are called to continue to rejoice in the victory of our Risen Lord, and to allow his victory and his presence to fill us with a deeper awareness of his presence in our lives. A presence that will hopefully place within us a desire to experience more of the holy Spirit as we celebrate Pentecost. Then, from our celebration of Pentecost we will hopefully begin to notice more than we do today the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Image: Brother Placid Sellers, O.S.B.