Jaime L. WatersApril 22, 2021
Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear about Saul (later called Paul) and his introduction to the apostles. Saul had previously been a persecutor of Christians, but after a vision and encounter with Christ, he has a conversion, a change of heart and attitude (Acts 9:1-19). In today’s reading, the apostles are understandably suspicious of Saul, knowing his past actions, but Barnabas is apparently familiar with Saul and vouches for him. As Saul continues his new ministry, he “spoke boldly in the name of the Lord.” What does it mean to speak boldly?

‘Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.’ (Jn 15:5)

Liturgical day
Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8

What can you do to speak and live boldly?

How do you spread the good news?

In what ways can you foster right relationships with God and with others?


Earlier in Acts, Luke describes some of the apostles speaking boldly and praying for boldness (see Acts 4:13, 29-31). This practice helps them spread the good news, especially through healings and wondrous signs. After the apostles pray for boldness, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and their first action is to offer help to people most in need, which we heard about on the Second Sunday of Easter. The boldness of the apostles is manifest in their generosity, sharing wealth and making sure people’s needs are met. Bold speech on behalf of God must be coupled with bold actions for people in need of physical and spiritual care. Today’s second reading, from 1 John, expresses a similar idea, affirming, “Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”

In the Gospel from John, Jesus speaks metaphorically to explain relationships: The Father is the vine grower, Jesus is the vine and the disciples are the branches. Jesus as the vine helps to link his followers with the Father. Moreover, it is the Father who cultivates the vine and enables the branches to bear fruit, discarding those that are not productive.

John uses this imagery because it was likely congenial to his audience, who were familiar with the agricultural work of viticulture. Moreover, he alludes to Old Testament images that describe God’s hope and plan for his people. Several of the prophets compare Israel to a vine or vineyard, often using the image to express disappointment at Israel’s infidelity. For instance, in Jeremiah God condemns Israel for worshipping other gods and failing to keep the commandments: “Yes, I planted you as a choice vine, from the purest stock. How then did you turn degenerate and become a wild vine?” (Jer 2:21). Isaiah, too, criticizes Israel as an unfruitful vineyard: “For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness but heard a cry” (Is 5:7).

John, however, uses the vine image to emphasize especially the positive outcomes. Jesus states that those who remain in him, understanding and living out the Gospel, will bear fruit. Being “in Christ” is active. It is not simply belief in Christ; rather, it is an active pursuit of justice. The end of the reading reiterates the connections and positive outcomes by affirming that by bearing fruit and living as Jesus’ disciples, they bring glory to the Father.

Today we are reminded to speak and live boldly. We should reflect on how faith in Christ requires action, especially on the part of those most in need. Living boldly is about living in a way that is consistent with the Gospel message of love of God and neighbors.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

Today’s readings challenge us to think about how we react to complex and difficult matters.
Jaime L. WatersJuly 15, 2021
As the world is filled with much suffering, we are called to action.
Jaime L. WatersJuly 15, 2021
Treating one another with dignity and respect are conditions of an authentic imitation of God.
Jaime L. WatersJuly 15, 2021