Our two readings are seemingly contrasting. The Gospel’s tone is romantic. It speaks of consolation. It soothes and is gentle to the ears. “I am the vine. You are the branches.” What more could we ask with such words?

What more is there to ask for when we are consoled that “we are always in the Lord.” The Gospel is so gentle and soothing.

In the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, there is a heated fight, not between Christians and Jews, but between Christians and Christians. You can imagine St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, fighting with the early Christians. The misunderstanding arose when the early Christians wanted circumcision, but Paul said it was unnecessary to be saved. To resolve this conflict, Paul had to travel to Jerusalem.

Conflict, arguments, debates, fights, quarrels, misunderstandings, and disagreements on one hand. Gentle presence, soothing words, consoling reassurances on the other. These are the two realities of the Church. Sometimes the Church will be blessed with situations that warm and console the heart. But sometimes the Church has to go through times when, for example, the Cardinal is assailed, when the Church is put under suspicion when the integrity of the Church and its leaders is attacked. Each is a reality. Each is the same Church.

St. Teresa of Avila says, “In consolation give thanks. In desolation, remember consolation.”

“I am the vine; you are the branches.”

We are going through rough times. But the poet says, “Into each life, some rain must fall.” Let the rains fall, let the storms come. We know they will not last. We know that dawn will come and the sun will rise.”

Acts 15:1-6; Jn 15:1-8
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