Homily for April 29

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

“Let’s keep in touch!”
How often have we said that to others?
How often have others said that to us?
It may seem to be a throw-away parting comment
but those three small words, “Keep in touch!”
sum up one of the most important realities in life.

To understand this better, consider the alternative:
when we’re “out of touch” we run the risk of becoming
disconnected, dislocated, unhinged…  alone.

When we’re out of touch we unplug communication,

we undo the bonds that keep families together,

friends united and communities whole.
We lose touch with the smiles, warm words, embraces and kisses

that mean so much to us and nourish our souls.

Unfortunately we often don’t realize how important it is to be in touch

until we’re out of touch

and find ourselves disconnected from others.

On the first pages of the scriptures, we find God

looking at the one human being he had made and saying,

 “You know, it’s not good for you to be alone.”
And so God made another human being and told the two of them,
“Keep in touch with each other and keep in touch with me.

That’s the message of Genesis.

Jesus offers the same message in the gospel when he says,

I’m the vine and you’re the branches: we’re connected, we’re in touch!

And the he pushes the same image when he says,

Just as a branch can’t bear fruit on its own
unless it remains connected to the vine,

so neither can you unless you stay in touch with me.

Stay connected, stay in touch with me.

lest you wither and fall off the vine and die.

We are made to “be with,” to be “in the company of,”

to be “united with, connected to, in touch with,” one another

and with God.

Our very existence springs from a man and woman
intimately in touch with each other
and the first nine months of our lives are spent in the intimacy
of our being in touch with, our living within our mother.

Our first trauma in life is the disconnection of leaving the womb

the first sound we make, the cry of losing touch with our mother -
until we’re pressed close to her breast,
in touch again with the one who carried us into the world.

The Lord is always inviting us to “keep in touch”

with him and with each other but, curiously,

staying in touch often means getting out the old pruning shears.

Staying in touch often means cutting back, to encourage growth

Staying in touch sometimes means cutting off,

to prune away what’s not healthy or helpful,

pruning away what’s not bearing good fruit in our lives.

The gospel today, then, invites some questions.

Am I in touch with the Lord?

How strong, how healthy  is my connection to the Lord’s vine?

Do I have any connections, any affections or attachments,

any relationships that need to be cut back, that need to be pruned?

If you’re like me you’re hesitant, at home, to prune trees or bushes

or plants in the garden.

I’m always afraid I’ll cut off too much, or cut off the wrong stuff

and kill what I want to encourage to grow.

Sometimes the pruning I need to do is simple

and shears like these will take care of it.

But sometimes the pruning I need to do - is more major.

And it’s the same in my life.

Sometimes I just have to snip here and there

- and things will be much better.

But sometimes in my life I need to get these out and say,

 “Get rid of that, Fleming - you don’t need that - cut that off -

it’s just holding you back.

We’re afraid of pruning - at least I am.

But just look around outdoors right now.

Nature, through the winter (as it does every year)

nature did its own pruning of branches and leaves and blossoms,

stripping everything down to almost nothing.

And yet in the next few weeks those same bare trees and plants

will bud and bloom and grow again.

Might the same not be true in my own life and circumstances -

and in yours?

Am I in touch with God?

Am I connected?

What needs to be pruned in my life and in yours?

Staying in touch, staying connected to God’s people at prayer,

 (just as we are right now)

is the best way to stay in touch, to stay connected with the Lord.

Just as our gathering here, our coming together in his name,

puts us in touch with each other,

we keep in touch by hearing his voice speak to us

in the scriptures.

We stay connected by praying and singing his praise together.
And most important, we keep in touch with the Lord and one another
in receiving the Eucharist,

in which the Lord makes of our individual bodies and our community:
a womb, a tabernacle of his presence,
offering us the intimacy of touching him in Bread and Cup,

of living in him in his Spirit,

of  consuming him, body and blood, in Communion.

There’s no closer way to be connected to, to be in touch with Jesus,

than in the Eucharist.

Pray with me that we have the wisdom and the courage

to prune away whatever keeps us from growing in God’s love

and that the Eucharist we celebrate here strengthen our connection

with the Lord, who is our life-giving vine,

and with each other, each of us branches on that same vine.


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