John 15: 1-8
Acts 15:1-6 / Ps 122:1-5
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing.
Hardships in life, help me to trust
That You know, Lord, what’s best for us;
Grant me the grace to understand
The pruning of Your loving hand.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without 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. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)
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 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 requires of us is to remain faithful to His Word (Christ) and to His Church. It is very much like our own children- they are God’s gift to us. We did not acquire them through hard labor. They are products of love and intimate pleasure. But we do need to take good care of them, just as we need to take good care of our faith by prayers and receiving the sacraments regularly.
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.