It is 29th April 2018. We celebrate the fifth Sunday of the Easter. The readings are from Acts 9:26-31; the second reading is 1 John 3:18-24; and the Gospel from John 15:1-8. Fruitfulness in Christian life does not depend on how lively and active we are in the ministry rather it depends on how intimately and immensely knitted with Jesus. Unnecessary controversies are sparked and provoked when we do things independently when we have a past that is under question. When our sinful living and its shadows still fresh in the minds of people, we cannot bring about Christ to the others. The first reading explains how St. Paul was not accepted by many people and St. Barnabas had to speak on his behalf to those who still feared St. Paul as the persecutor. It is not that easy to translate our spiritual conversion without concrete actions that has radically changed right within and experienced by others. St. Paul had a reputation of being a persecutor in the past. It is very hard to change the perceptions and reputation without a deep conversion and a radical change right within and around. Now he has become the promoter and proclaimer of the Good News and Jesus whom he encountered in a personal vision. The Church grows when we are committed and dedicated in spreading the Gospel even when we are humiliated, hunted after and even exposed to be martyred. The responsorial Psalm acclaims, “I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.” (Ps.22:26). The second reading teaches that our sharing of the resources is the proof we still love Jesus. To assure and strengthen someone with words do not fill the hunger of the soul but the truth and actions do satisfy our thirst for God. We must be the first one to respond in action towards those who are in need. For most of us, our consciences do not question us anymore when we see someone is suffering. We have compromised our consciences and hardened our hearts towards the poor and the need forgetting once we were like them. It is not enough to feel guilty and sorry for the poor makes them better. “If we are in Christ, He will not condemn us.” (Rom.8:1). When our consciences are not clear and full of fear is the proof that we are not following the commandments of love. The world verifies the presence of the Risen Lord in our conduct and the way we deal with the poor. What we need to keep our consciences clear is “to love Jesus, to love one another and to live in perfect union with Him in charity.” (1 Jn.3:23). In the Gospel, Jesus claims that He is the true vine and we are the branches. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (Jn.15:1-2). In the Old Testament, Grapes symbolised fruitfulness in doing God’s work here on earth (Ps.80:8; Is.5:1-7; Ez.19:10-14). We are fruitful in so far as the Word of God abides in us. A regular pruning is required for the fruitfulness. Nurturing our faith needs a certain amount attention and trimming of the weak, the dead and less fruitful areas of our lives with the help of the Sacraments and life-giving Spirit of God. Are we productive and fruitful follower of Christ? The unproductive followers are equal to dead branches. No growth is possible without discipline and sacrifice. It is our closeness with Jesus makes us fruitful in prayer, love, joy and even winning souls for Christ. Our life and nourishment are Jesus, the Vine. “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (Jn.15:4). May you remain fruitful in Christ. Have a good day.