The Entrance Antiphon (cf Psalm 97:1-2) expresses joy: Our Lord has very clearly shown us the way forward and, indeed, saved us and, throughout life, we must seek and cooperate with Grace so that we may attain Eternal Salvation.
In the First Reading (Acts 9:26-31) we hear of the newly converted Saint Paul’s meeting with the, understandably wary Disciples. Paul might be thought of as a type of Saint George, fearless unto death in his living and preaching the often ‘unpalatable’ and challenging Truth. We hear how, having declared himself a follower of Christ, Paul had immediately faced strong and hostile opposition. This fact, as well as the account of his Conversion, was enough to convince the Disciples that he (formerly named Saul) was indeed a worthy ally. Saints George, Mark and Paul, Martyrs all, are outstanding role models for us. We shall probably never be called to ‘lay our life on the line’ but, as we hear constantly through the media, many of our brothers and Sisters are still martyred for their fidelity to God. Christians, even here in England, Mary’s Dowry, can experience concerted opposition, even, at times, backed by law. Sometimes this may be through ignorance and misunderstanding, but sometimes, sadly, it is because our hearers know, ‘deep down’, that we are right. However tough a time we may have as a Christians, we can take heart, as Saint Paul did, that God will ultimately prevail over opposition to His Truth.
The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 21:26-28, 30-32 response v26) again looks to the centrality of God in our lives and the ongoing and irresistible spread of Faith, Truth and Justice, as more are gathered into the one true fold.
Saint John, in the Second reading (1 Jn. 3:18-24) emphasises the inescapable fact that belief in Jesus cannot be merely verbal assent but, if it is to be credible to all, it must influence our relations with and our treatment of others. As the maxim states, ‘actions speak louder than words’. Our conscience, formed by the Teachings of the Church, will help us to remain faithful and confident in our loving obedience to God’s Laws, whatever obstacles may be placed in our path. The Commandments are our sure Rule of Life, our ‘Route-Map’. This fruitful closeness to our Father is echoed in the Alleluia Verse (John 15:4-5) and underlined later on in the Communion Antiphon (cf John 15:1-5).
The Gospel (Jn. 15:1-8) presents us with the beautiful discourse of Jesus on our essential and close, therefore fruitful, union with Him; only by growing on the Vine can Branches flourish and bear fruit. Our Lord delivers the stark warning that the roads to Heaven and Hell, to our Eternity, are our choice. We are called to oppose the materialism and the so-called ‘modern moral standards’ so widely and forcefully presented as ‘cool’ and to be constantly aware that, however much the ‘majority’ may appear to prevail, every single person created will appear before God’s Judgement Seat. Be prepared to suffer opposition now in order to, one day, hear the words’…Well done, Good and Faithful Servant…’ (Matthew 25:21, 23) from our Loving Father.
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church