“He declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord.”
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 9:26-31)
In those days: When Saul had come to Jerusalem he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him. And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him off to Tarsus. So the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 22:26b-27.28 and 30.31-32 (R. 26a)
R/. You are my praise, Lord, in the great assembly.
My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him.
May their hearts live on forever and ever! R
All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord,
all families of the nations worship before him.
They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust. R.
And my soul shall live for him, my descendants serve him.
They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his saving justice to peoples yet unborn:
“These are the things the Lord has done.” R.
“This is his commandment, that we should believe. . . and love one an- other.”
A reading from the first Letter of Saint John (1 John 3 : l b-24)
Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA John 15:4a.5b
Alleluia. Abide in me, and I in you, says the Lord; he who abides in me bears much fruit. Alleluia.
“He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 15: 1-8)
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burnt. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The risen Lord made Saul, once a persecutor of Christians, the apostle of the nations. This is the story of a tyrant oppressor turned into a loving follower. In this is Scripture fulfilled that ‘with God, all things are possible’ (Matt 19:26). We can observe how great things happen when God mixes with us. It is not surprising that the disciples were afraid of Saul and, because of his former way of life, doubted the possibility of him becoming one with them. Barnabas instead makes himself a bridge of reconciliation between Paul and the disciples, which is the attitude of a true Christian. Forgiveness, rooted in love for one another, is one of the good fruits we have to bear if we are to remain as branches of the true Vine. May we not allow the past lives of others to determine our present relationship with them.