Sunday, May 3, 2015

Homily Starter for Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community, 5 Sunday of Easter Year B, Mary 2, 2015 by Deacon Jim Marsh, ARCWP

It’s the month of May, traditionally dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  In a sense, it’s a “feasting” month for our community.  It is also the month when Catholic Christian communities often celebrate First Communions of our youngest members.  Certainly, receiving holy communion for the first time is a momentous and exciting event --- bet you can even remember yours!  Some might say it is the best part about being Catholic.
Today’s Good News is the parable about vines and branches.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m at my home in New York and my neighbor’s grape vines are encroaching my yard and growing everywhere, I feel the need to chop everything back to “clean it up.”  So I had to ponder the meaning of today’s parable.
Vines need nourishment and care to produce good grapes.  Just imagine if the grapes are not good; there would be no juice, no jelly for our breakfast muffins, and certainly no good wine with dinner!  I propose the question to ponder today is: how are you and I nourished and nurtured to bear much fruit?

As Catholics, we believe we are sustained by receiving the body and blood of Christ.  However, our ritual of eating and drinking sacramental food is not enough if we do not give shelter to people who are homeless, if we do not feed people who are hungry, if we do not rescue those who are sexually trafficked, bullied or abused.  God’s presence and love is made manifest by us.
My friends, our Eucharist is a foretaste, a promise, and a call to action. 
So just what do you and I see in our sacred bread, in the cup of blessing?  Do we see the hand of God, the divine presence ….. the sun and rains that warmed and watered the fields ….. the farmers who tilled the soil, planted the seeds deep within mother earth to grow, become transformed, sustain us … the migrants who toil long hours for little wages to harvest the crops …. Do we see the connectedness and blessing of all creation?
Are we fearful and distrusting of others, like that early Jerusalem community was of Saul?    If so, then let us be mindful of our need to stretch, grow and reach out, to become entangled like vines, in our daily living with others.  As John’s letter reminds us, “let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it.” 
There are thousands of different grapes in the world: red, white, sweet, sour, seeded and not.  Oftentimes, the owners of vineyards will cross many varieties to create something new …. a new blend. 
Our Catholic church today is experiencing a new cross-fertilization.  Although the process is painfully slow for some of us (think of the long fermentation process), we do see a diverse group of independent, vibrant eucharistic communities emerging --- MMOJ is truly one of them; a community that stresses our relationships and relatedness, and not rules and regulations.  What a blessing and a gift! 
Please share what you have heard in today’s readings.  How are you nurtured to be savory and tasty, to bear good fruit? 
In closing, let us not lose heart.  May we eat heartily of this bread and drink merrily of this cup --- realizing that we are all truly called to be co-workers in the vineyard.  May God be glorified in our living and loving this week.

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