A little joke from Deacon Tom Sheridan:
The little church suddenly stopped buying office supplies from its regular office supply dealer. So, the dealer called the pastor to ask why. “I’ll tell you why,” shouted the pastor indignantly. “Our church ordered some pencils from you to be used in the pews for visitors to register.”
“Well,” interrupted the dealer, “didn’t you receive them yet?”
“Oh, we received them alright,” replied the pastor. “You sent us little pencils each stamped with the words: Play Golf Next Sunday.”
1st Reading, from Acts:
Can you imagine being at war, and in the heat of battle, one of the enemy’s soldiers came to your side and said ‘I’m now fighting on your side’? Would you simply trust him? Probably not!
This is how it was with Saul: the disciples of Jesus knew exactly who he was — he was their persecutor. So, the apostle Barnabas actually steps in on Saul’s behalf and becomes like his sponsor, and shares with the other apostles how the Risen Lord appeared to Saul and spoke with him. Something the apostles would find very familiar. From that point on, not only was Saul accepted and protected, but wherever Saul went, the Church flourished and grew, and was at peace.
2nd reading, from 1 John:
The thrust of this reading is that we must believe in the Name of Jesus. So often, the Name of Jesus is only used in a curse. Do we, can we, use His Name in the Power of Good? Try it this week! Use the Name of Jesus out loud in a positive way. If it feels awkward to you, then it is something that you MUST work on, as you are a disciple of Christ.
The Gospel, from John:
The Gospel of John reminds us that God wants us to have an intimate relationship with him. The image of the Father being the Vine Master, and Jesus being the Vine, and all of us being the branches that need to bear fruit, is a reminder for us as disciples that we must always remain connected to Jesus, as Jesus is connected to the Father. To bear fruit means that we continue the work of the Lord.
Let’s go back to the 1st reading, where Saul becomes known as Paul. In meeting the Lord, Saul realizes who he truly is supposed to be. It enabled Saul to confront himself, to see himself in truth. Now, known as Paul, he blossomed because he accepted who he was. Paul shows us what it takes to become and remain part of Jesus’ vine.
When we receive the Eucharist today, either physically or spiritually, may we in return become Eucharistic people, meaning that we are thankful people and use the Name of Jesus for only good things.