Fifth Sunday of Easter Year B
2 May 2021
“ I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:5
The Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, the renowned American Jesuit of the late Twentieth Century, says that if we are to understand the Catholic Faith then we need to see how important sanctifying grace is in the spiritual life. Grace is God’s gift to the soul which is nothing other than His own divine life. God shares His Divine Nature with each soul; we participate in God’s inner life when God enters the soul who loves Him: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father's commandments, and do abide in his love.” Jn. 15:10 God comes to every soul and abides in the souls who love him: “Abide in me, and I in you...” Jn. 15:4 We can only have the life of sanctifying grace if we abide in God: “I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:5 This life-giving sap in the soul, which we received in Baptism, is sanctifying grace. This grace is also known as habitual grace as it always resides in the soul which is in the state of grace without any mortal sins.
“Without Me you can do nothing...” Jn. 15:5
If the branch is not united to the vine, it will not bear any fruit. So, too, are Catholics who are not united to Christ by grace. Everything in the spiritual life comes from God’s grace, for without Him, we can do nothing: “For without Me you can do nothing...” Jn. 15:5 St. Paul tells us that God gives us all graces both to will and accomplish good works: “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.” Phil. 2:13 These graces which come and go when we need them are called actual graces, and God gives us countless graces every day to do good and avoid evil.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.” Jn. 15:7
One of the many blessings of being in the state of grace and abiding in God’s friendship and love is that God will always answer our prayers. As God is infinite love, it goes without saying that He will bless the soul in sanctifying grace by answering his prayers: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.” Jn. 15:7 God may not give him everything that he wishes, but He will give him whatever is good for his eternal life. When Jesus spoke about eating His body and drinking His blood to the Jews, He said: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.” Jn. 6:55 What is more important than eternal life? God will give us this supreme good of eternal life with the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
“In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit and become my disciples.”Jn. 15:8
The soul in the state of grace gives glory to God who is glorified in His saints. St. Paul would say that all those who keep the commandments (i.e. those in the state of grace) are “the Praise of His Glory.” Eph. 1:14 God is glorified in their lives because they honour and praise Him by their obedience to His Commandments which proves their love for Him:
“If anyone abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth.” Jn. 15:6
Those who do not keep the Commandments are like the branches not attached to the vine. Because of mortal sin, the soul prefers its own will to God’s will and disobeys the Commandments: “Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit,..” Jn. 15:2 These souls who are living in mortal sin do not bear fruit and will be cast into the fires of hell for all eternity. Many people today do not believe in hell, yet the New Testament mentions hell thirty-eight times. One woman came to St. Padre Pio and said that she did not believe in hell; Padre Pio then said to her, “You will when you get there!”
Grace Bears Abundant Fruit
The soul which abides in Jesus Christ bears such an abundance of blessings because it is united to Jesus Christ in love. Not only does it receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (fear of the Lord, piety, fortitude, counsel, wisdom, knowledge and understanding), it receives the seven infused virtues (faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude) but it also receives the twelve fruits (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.) and the blessings of the Eight Beatitudes (mercy, clean of heart, justice, meekness, poverty, peace, persecuted). All these gifts and blessings are a foretaste of eternal life which Jesus has promised to all those who love Him and keep His Commandments. There is no greater blessing in life than sanctifying grace by which we have so many blessings here in this life and eternal happiness in