Remaining in the Vine

John 15: 1-8
Acts 15:1-6 / Ps 122

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
(John 15:2)

Your work in me I want to trust,
Because You know what’s best for us;
Grant us the grace to understand
The prunings of Your loving hand.

(Jesus said), “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)

Reflection

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser.” All of us are the branches who must cling to Him if we are to receive sustenance and life. “Remain in me as I remain in you,” He said, otherwise we will not bear fruit, and useless as we are, we will be cut away by the Vinedresser and thrown into the fire. But if we remain faithful to His Word, we will receive God’s abundant blessings in our life.

Note that Jesus mentions the word “remain” eight times in today’s Gospel. This is significant in light of the many Christian denominations today that have “branched out” of the Catholic Church. Most of these churches do not really abide by the true teachings of Christ, and the fruitfulness of their works can only be deemed questionable. For instance, where do their members get spiritual sustenance if they do not have the sacraments, which were instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ to be the life-giving sap that the branches derive from the Vine?

Many have left the true Vine (Jesus and His Church) in search of more meaningful forms of worship, or of a church that conforms to their idea of what religion should be. But perhaps it is because of their own inability to bear fruit that they have been “cut off from the Vine”. And how could they bear fruit if they did not remain or abide in Him? Jesus may well be talking to them when He said, “You do not have His word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the One Whom He has sent.” (John 5:38) He who lacks faith does not have God’s Word living in him.

God is the Gardener of our life. He planted us in this life, and supplies what we need. We did not have to work hard to attain His gift of faith. In fact, at the start, we didn’t have to work at it at all. All that He required of us was to remain faithful. Which says a lot about His gift of love in marriage, wherein, unfortunately, the high rate of divorce is the result of much unfaithfulness. Our children are also God’s gifts to us. We did not acquire them through hard labor. They are products of love and intimate pleasure. But like our marriage, we also need to take good care of them, so that they too will remain faithful to our values and ideals, as we are to the Gospel values of our Lord Jesus and to His Church.

Father God, we acknowledge You as our Divine Provider, and praise and thank You for all the blessings in our life. You have cut away all our inequities, and pruned us with trials to make us strong and productive. Let your Holy Spirit continue to empower and guide us to abide in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

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