As lay associates, sisters and brothers of the Ireland England Province of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, we are priviliged to be able to offer you some thoughts and reflections on our Sunday readings.  Many of our lay associates, sisters and brothers have contributed to putting together for the first time, homilies which cover every Sunday of the Liturgical year.  We hope that you will find this service to be of assistance to you in your ministry or just as an opportunity for you to reflect and to pray on the various themes that these reading have to offer us.

preach gospel always


6. Homilies Ap May          Each Monday, we will try to post the homily for the following w/e on this Homepage.  (See previous homilies below)  

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – Year B by Fr. Michael Ruddy, sscc

A few years ago, I spent some retreat time at a monastery that had a modest winery to supplement its income. One day I got speaking with the monk who tended and looked after the plants, and he told me something very surprising about the work he did among the rows and rows of vines. He said that before being asked to take on this work, he had thought that all vines were the same - indeed looking down through the neat symmetrical rows, you could be forgiven for thinking there was no difference between or among them. In his hours of sometimes laborious work, he discovered that no two vines were the same, and even though they were trained to have two main branches in cruciform, left and right of the main stem, every single vine was unique, different and had differing needs for water, nutrients, fertilisers etc. For me, this conversation with the viticulture monk, put today’s Gospel in a different light.

Today, Jesus as many times in the Gospel, uses nature and the natural world to explain the Kingdom of God to us. He was using an image that most of his listeners could relate to, as most homes would have a vine growing near them, either trained on the wall of their house, or in their garden or courtyard, so that ‘make your home in me as I make mine in you,’ would have a particular resonance for them. These close and homegrown vines, provided not only fruit and wine, but also shade, scent, colour and an ongoing reminder of the cycle of life, growth, pruning? and decline. Notice in the Gospel, Jesus doesn’t say, ‘I am the stem, you are the branches,’ but ‘I am the vine,’ meaning that He and the sap that is the Holy Spirit, courses through the whole plant, and once we ‘remain’ in Him, our lives are naturally one with the Trinity, and are given a continuous supply of nourishment, vitality, energy, health and whole-ness.

Jesus had also observed, that for a vine to remain healthy, strong and fruitful, regular pruning was needed, so that the vital life force of the plant was not dissipated in wild and unruly growth. Jesus himself had felt the ‘pruning’ of his Father, through his daily communing and prayer - ‘remaining’ in the heart of his Abba, so that everything he said and did was in conformity to his Father’s will. (John 5:30) Jesus’ ultimate pruning was of course his suffering, passion and death, which He also agonisingly saw in the context of his Father’s will: (Luke 22:42.)

Jesus knew, that this same dynamic of doing God’s will, flowing from closeness to Him should be at work in the lives of his disciples. They were ‘pruned’ by means of the Word,’ He had spoken to them. (John 15:3.) Jesus makes a similar statement in the Last Supper discourse when He tells the disciples that they have been cleaned: (John 13:10.) It seems almost counter-intuitive to cut and prune new growth, and if the vine had been given a choice before the vinedresser, it would not have agreed to its pruning. Like so many things connected with faith, we only see the wisdom and the benefits of what is being asked, after the event.

Today, in our highly individualised and individual western society, not only is it not P.C. to be beholden to any ‘will,’ ‘word’ or ‘way’ not our own, but we recoil from any ‘pruning,’ we perceive to be a limitation on our own freedom, choice and autonomy. So, some good questions flowing from today’s Gospel might be: What prevents us from submitting to Christ’s pruning through His Word? How can the fullness of the Holy Spirit be channeled into our lives and ministry without our Father’ pruning? How have we experienced new life, growth and the God of surprises, after willingly and freely allowing ourselves to be pruned by the Lord’s Word, Will and Way?

In this, as in every aspect of our faith, it all goes back to our relationship with the Lord. A child that has a close, trusting and loving relationship with a parent, understands their corrections, not as a slight to their ego, but as an expression of the parents care and concern for them. Likewise, when we have the same relationship with the Lord, we can trust the pruning is for our own good and growth. This is why, in our short Gospel passage, Jesus repeats the verb menein: remain/abide, six times so that we are in no doubt what is the context and reason for our own pruning.

Jesus, in his life on earth came to know and deepen and grow into the depths of His Father’s love for Him. He could remind us that our Abba was one who: provides for our needs: (John 6:1-14,) who knows and understands our waywardness: (Luke 15:11-32?,) who sees and is interested in every aspect of our lives: (Mt 10:29,) who is always forgiving and compassionate and who wants us to do the same: (Mt 18:21-22,) and because we are all His children wants this to be the inspiration and motivation for our love and service of others especially the poor: (Luke 10:25-37,) All of these characteristics of Our Father are eminently visible in the Son, who is the icon/image of the Father: (Col. 1:15,) and those who have ‘seen’ the Son, have through the Holy Spirit seen the Father: (John 14:8-9.)

And so we’re back to the viticulture monk, who came to understand through his labours in the vineyard, the uniqueness of every single vine, the sap of the Holy Spirit coursing through the plant at this time of year and the ‘necessity’ (Lk 24:26,) of pruning for our own life, health and vitality. As we prepare in a couple of weeks time for the great Feast of Pentecost, may we find joy in our recommitment to our life in Christ, and in this joy allow whatever pruning is required, so as to be a welcoming and fitting vine to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.


1. Homilies - Sundays of Advent

2. Homilies for January 

3. Homilies for Jan Feb

4. Homilies Feb Mar

5. Homilies Mar Ap

6. Homilies Ap May


Click here for HOMILIES - YEAR A & C