by Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, O.M.I, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cotabato
Liturgy of the Word
Acts of the Apostles 15:1-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1. Some Notes on St. Pope John I --The Mass in honor of St. Pope John 1 may be celebrated today. Pope John I was Pope for 3 yrs, from 533 unttil his martyrdom in 526. He was from Siena, Italy. As a deacon, he supported the anti-pope Laurentius, and later asked for forgiveness from Pope Symmachus. He was elected to the Papacy in 523. Despite his being frail in health, he was sent by the Ostrogoth King, Theoderic the Great, to Constantinople. Theodoric was an Arian heretic, a unitarian (non-trinitarian) heresy that plagued the whole Church for a long time.
2. Pope John succeeded in his mission to Justin I, the Catholic Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. On his return, he was arrested by Theodoric in Ravenna on suspicion of having conspired with Emperor Justin. Justin had agreed to give better treatment of Arians but declared that Arians who had converted to Catholicism would not retain their place in the hierarchy as deacons, priests, and bishops.
3. Frail in health, Pope John died of neglect and ill treatment in a Ravenna prison on 18 May 326 and is venerated as a Martyr. His body is now enshrined in the Basilica of St. Peter.
4. 1st Reading, Acts 15:1-6 -- The Council of Jerusalem. In Antioch, some Judean Christians were teaching that circumcision according to the Mosaic law was necessary for salvation. Paul and Barnabas debated with them. It was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and others would bring the issue to the Apostles and presbyters in Rome.
5. Passing through Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of many Gentiles, which brought great joy to the believers. In Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the Apostles and presbyters. But some converts from the Pharisses insisted that circumcision and observation of the Mosaic law were necessary. Thus the Apostles and presbyters gathered for the first ever Church Council, the Council of Jerusalem.
6. Responsorial Ps.122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 - A "song of ascents," or a song sung by pilgrims as they go up to the temple of Jerusalem. "I rejoiced when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.' And now our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem" (vv. 1-2). To this walled city, the tribes go up to give thanks to the Lord. In Jerusalem are the thrones of justice, the thrones of the house of David (vv. 3-5). In Jerusalem the pilgrims hear the divine justice mediated by the king.
7. Gospel, Jn. 15:1-8 -- The Parable of the Vine and the Branches -- the Necessity of Union with Jesus and the Father. Jesus speaks to his disciples. I am the Vine and the Father is the Vine Grower. You are the branches (v.1 and v. 5; see Is. 5:1-7; Ps. 80:9-17). The Father takes away every branch that does not bear fruit. He prunes vines that bear fruit so that they would bear more (v. 2).
8. "Remain in me, as I remain in you." You cannot bear fruit "unless you remain me" (v. 4). "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing" (v. 5). "Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither," and be burned (v. 6).
9. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" (v. 7). Union with the Lord assures positive response to sincere, faith-filled and loving prayer. "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples" (v. .
10. Prayer -- O Lord, our loving God, you are the source of our life. If we do not remain in you, we are nothing and can do nothing. Grant, we pray, that we may always be united with you, so that in the midst of pandemic and political divisions, we may be assured of your protection and guidance. This we pray through Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Let us go rejoicing in the house of the Lord! Prayers, stay safe, God bless!