One of my favorite parts about living in Point Pleasant is that there is Hoffman’s Ice Cream only 2 blocks away. If you know me you know that I love ice cream. I never knew people who liked ice cream more than me until I met Fr. Phil and Fr. Richard. They particularly like their ice cream sandwiches. They sell 4 types the vanilla, chocolate, vanilla with sprinkles, and chipwhich (vanilla with chocolate chips and chocolate chip cookies. Have you had them? They are good. Hoffman’s does not sell either the vanilla or chocolate flavor, it sells both/and not either/or.
In the second reading, the author emphasizes that life is about both/and not either/or, he brings together things that are often separated from one another in our thinking. For example:
We must believe in Jesus and be obedient to his commandments. We can’t believe in Jesus and then not live out his commandments. This is like talking the talk, but not walking the walking. What we say we believe and what we do are to be the same.
We must love in word or speech and in deed and truth. You can’t love in name only, you have to live it. This is the debate over faith and works. The Christian life is not about only having faith or only doing good works, it is both/and, our faith leads us to do good works, and our good works are reflections of our faith.
We must believe in God’s son and love one another. Believing in Jesus can’t end with just the belief, we must be open to transformation to become like the One in whom we believe. And the One in whom we believe loved others. And to love others is to respect his or her person in every sense of the word. This means loving everyone, even our enemies. Saying that we believe in who Jesus is, and yet choosing to not live like Jesus, is a contradiction.
Now is it easy to live a both/and Christian life. No. It is difficult and takes work. Some days are easier than others. Some days it is really difficult to walk the walk, to do good works, or to love your enemies. Or some days it is really difficult to believe in Jesus or to have faith.
But as we heard in the Gospel, whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing. See a vine and its branches are so intricately connected. The life of the vine is the life of the branches. The life of Jesus is our life. The vine bears fruit through its branches, and the branches bear the fruit of the vine. Jesus bears fruit through us and through us we bear fruit for Jesus.
May you and I always remain connected to Jesus the vine and may our Christian lives be both/and not either/or.
Fifth Sunday of Easter Homily
May 3, 2015
St. Peter's Church
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ