Updated: Apr 28, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Easter
FAST AND SLOW
Our readings today offer a sharp contrast that hints at the wide variety of ways in which God works. In Acts, there is a rush of activity and profound change happens in a hurry. Paul,
who was a leader in persecutions of the first Christians, has recently encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. In today’s passage, Paul has suddenly become a powerful witness for Jesus, risking his life and astonishing both the Christians and their enemies. This is God working fast, and everyone is trying to keep up!
In contrast, in today’s Gospel from John, Jesus describes the vine and the branches bearing fruit. Vines and branches by nature act slowly and quietly. The passage itself is repetitive and meditative, inviting us to slow down and listen to what is happening under the surface. This speaks of the slow, patient work of God.
DISCERNMENT AND LOVE
The scriptures indicate that God often works on a long-term time frame. We might need our whole lives to learn some of God’s lessons. The Church sometimes takes centuries to learn vital lessons about God. But within God’s slow work, there are bursts of activity when the moment is ripe in God’s eyes. We might perceive these bursts of God’s grace, if we are able to see.
This fascinating mix of fast and slow can invite us again to deepen our practice of discernment. Discernment is the art of paying attention to God. It is the capacity to detect God’s activity, which leads us toward bearing fruit and away from that which is fruitless. In our messy world, and aware of our personal frailties, discernment is often difficult. It helps to remember that God’s activity is revealed in love. Whether fast or slow, God always works in love. We are called to perceive God’s dramatic and sudden activities as well as God’s deep and patient work of love in daily life and in our world.
Today’s Readings: Acts 9:26¬–31; Ps 22:26–27, 28, 30, 31–32; 1 Jn 3:18–24; Jn 15:1–8