Sunday, April 29
Fifth Sunday of Easter
John 15: 1 – 8
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke 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.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
This Gospel message, at first glance, seems like a no-brainer. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We have to stay connected to the vine because without the vine we can’t bear fruit (do anything). When it seems that easy, take it as a sign that you need to go deeper into the passage. If it is taken from John you definitely need to go deeper because John’s version of the gospel is like an iceberg. We see only the top part but the vast majority of the message is deeper.
I have no question in my mind that if I don’t stay connected to Jesus (the vine), I (a branch) will lose focus and will not really do too much good (bear fruit). The challenge is to really be very honest with myself and ask, “How do I stay connected and what makes me lose the connection?” The main way to stay connected is through prayer: private prayer and communal prayer. I need to have time for private prayer every day, and when I let that slip away or I chip away at it because, “I am so busy,” that is when I start to drift from the source of life. The other need is participating in the prayer of the community, which for us is Mass. I need the faith of a community to lean on and also to allow them to lean on me.
We still have to go deeper. Again, I have no problem believing that the branches need the vine. What I struggle with is that the vine needs the branches. That is an awesome and humbling thought. God needs me to do the work of the Gospel. God needs you to do the work of the Gospel. Think about that! In God’s great design, God made us an integral part of Jesus’ mission on earth. We downplay that. We deny that. We don’t fully believe it. We claim unworthiness. We claim ignorance. We…. blah, blah, blah. Yet, the bottom line is that you and I are essential to the vine. In a couple of weeks we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. We, along with the disciples of Jesus, will be given the divine commission, “Go, and make disciples of all nations.” That’s what lies beneath this Gospel. That is what changes this Gospel passage from being a “no-brainer” to the biggest challenge of our lives. Called to take the message of the Good News out to others. “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor 5:19-20
Bring the Gospel to others. The vine needs you!!! -Teresa Tuite, OP
Sister Teresa Tuite