Once again, the first reading begins in the middle of a story. This chapter of the Acts of the Apostles began with Saul “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” By the passage read today, Saul has regained his sight and been baptized but has not yet changed his name. He travels to Jerusalem, the heart of the community he so recently persecuted. Not surprisingly, Saul receives a cool reception when he tries to join the disciples of Jesus, who he’d encountered on his way to Damascus. When he is accepted, Saul soon faces persecution in turn. Even so, today’s first reading ends with a description of the church at peace, a testimony to the consoling power of the Spirit whose coming we will soon celebrate at Pentecost.
Behind all that is said about love in today’s second reading lies another conflict with those who do not understand the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God. But as in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the author of the first letter of John looks to the Spirit at work, supporting those who remain faithful believers.
Like last Sunday’s gospel about the Good Shepherd, today’s gospel begins with an “I am” statement, emphasizing Jesus’s unity with his Father—although today’s reflection will consider another image that lies within the invitation to remain united with Jesus, the true vine.
Today’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.