Remain in Christ Jesus

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.
(John 15:5)

Be resolute when trials come,
Don’t let anxieties take root;
Just trust that when the Gardener’s done
His pruning will make us bear fruit.

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)

Reflection

Many members of renewal communities, who for some reason lost their zeal to serve in the community, or even attend its regular activities, also lost the fire of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Perhaps this is the message that is being imparted in John’s Gospel for those Christians who are failing to hold fast to their commitment to Jesus.

Note that our Lord mentions the word “remain” eight times in today’s Gospel reading. This is significant considering the many Christian denominations today that have “branched out” of the Catholic Church. Most of these churches do not even abide by the teachings of Jesus 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 Savior Himself to be the life-giving sap that the branches derive from the Vine?

Others have left the true Vine (Jesus and His Church) in search of more “practical” 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 when 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 very start, we didn’t have to work for it at all. All that He required of us was to remain faithful to His Word (Christ) and be obedient 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 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 iniquities, 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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