Homilies – May 2015


ACTS 9:26-31; 1 JOHN 3:18-24; JOHN 15:1-8

There is one word in today’s Gospel that is repeated six times.  Have you located that word?  It is the word REMAIN.  We must REMAIN part of the vine.  It’s beautifully expressed in the sentence “Make your home in me as I make mine in you.”  We must REMAIN in this home that God gives us.  The beautiful image in today’s Gospel is of the vine and the branches.  A branch that does not REMAIN with the vine will wither and it will be collected and burnt.

There is an inward dimension here.  Inward in a sense that our communion with God in Jesus Christ is the essence of our identity as Christians and as Church.  We cannot think of God as remote from us.  In Jesus, God has become very close to us.  God always will REMAIN with us.  This is His everlasting promise.  As a consequence of this Grace, in faith we are to likewise REMAIN in Jesus.

But this is not something that is just theoretical or pietistic.  It’s not something that is just a vertical relationship only between God and me and to the neglect of all others.

In the second reading this is brought to the fore.

St John says “Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.” Our faith in Jesus is to be real and active.  There’s to be an outward expression of it – a horizontal dimension too.

We see all this played out in the first reading with the great emerging apostolate of Saul who becomes Paul.

Whenever God changes the direction of somebody in the Bible there is a name change.  So Simon becomes Peter, Abram becomes Abraham and now Saul becomes Paul.

Paul became the greatest evangeliser the Christian Church has ever produced.  But we would not have Paul unless Barnabas appeared on the scene.  St Barnabas is the great encourager.  See what he does with Paul who is under great suspicion by the early community, understandably so.  The Scripture today says that Barnabas “Took charge of him, introduced him to the Apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to him……………”

Barnabas has far seeing spiritual eyes.  His union with the Risen Lord is something very real and practical.  In this particular circumstance he brings Paul from the outer periphery of the Church into its very centre.

We too must be a Barnabas in today’s world.  There are many times when we are called to also be a unifier and an encourager.

In the week to come, think of your own life.  Try to anticipate areas where you can be a real positive encourager at home or in the workplace.  It can be as simple as a warm smile or a gentle affirmation.  It could be an email that thanks someone.  Or it could be a quick phone call of appreciation.  It might be recognition of a birthday or an anniversary day.  Or the visit to someone who is sick.  When we have a practical response like this then we become a real Barnabas.

I know it’s difficult to do sometimes.  Sometimes we don’t know whether it would be a good idea to respond in a certain way or perhaps not to respond in another way.  We do need God’s guidance.

I do recall years ago that somebody gave me a beautiful piece of advice which is so simple.  I offer it to you to help you to discern how you can be a real Barnabas in the week ahead.

This person simply said “Do your best, let God do the rest.” Think about this.  I think there’s much wisdom in this simple little expression.

As we now continue with our Eucharist let us remember the three main points that I’ve mentioned above.  Let us REMAIN in the love of the Lord, let us be a Barnabas to others, and let us “Do our best and let God do the rest.”