Sixth Sunday of Easter

by M. Nelle Carty

Many of us who went through Catholic school religion courses probably heard the saying, “If you come to an answer on the test you don’t know, just write ‘God is love’ and your teacher can’t mark it wrong!” Not bad advice. It is slightly ironic that I am graduating this weekend with a Master of Divinity, and I am writing reflections on readings that ultimately say, “God is love!” After three years of studying theology, I am still arriving at the same answer!

Well, God is love. Because of this, God calls us to be in relationship and do something in response to this love. The gospel on this Sixth Sunday in Easter is a continuation of the gospel we heard last week. John’s gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter used the metaphor of the vine and the branches to describe our relationship to Christ. We were told to “…bear much fruit and become [Jesus’] disciples” (Jn 15: 1-8). This theme of bearing fruit is significant, because it appears as a theme again in this week’s gospel.

Using the metaphor of the vine and the branches, John’s gospel calls us to be more than merely lovely, green branches. We are called to bear fruit. But what does it mean to “bear much fruit?” Fruit, like grapes for example, is picked and used as food or drink for others. Being fruitful, then, requires a gift of self. “How am I called to give of myself to others?” is an appropriate question for each of us to ask ourselves. For what is the world thirsting and needing? These are not just discernment questions for those of us who are graduating; these are questions that all of us should be continually asking ourselves. I was visiting St. Malachy’s parish in Burlington, MA last weekend, and we sang a song that captures what it means to “bear much fruit and become Christ’s disciples.” Although I cannott remember the name of the song, its message was clear: “Christ has no hands but ours in the world.” In other words, God is love. Christ was the incarnation of this love. Now, God works through us, the modern-day disciples, to make this love present.

To respond that God is love may be a simple answer on a religion test, but responding to God’s love and being fruitful requires a great deal more than writing a three word sentence. It requires us to be in the world and make God’s love present.

From M. Nelle Carty: I am grateful to all of the people who have made God’s love present and have helped me know that love. Thank you to those of you who have nourished me during this portion of my journey in Boston. As I embark on a year of travels around the world, I hope to continue to learn more about the One who is love and to find ways to be fruitful in the world.

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