( A commentary on John 5: 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.” (John 5: 1-8)
We live in a time when the Holy Spirit seems to have drawn back from the world.
Our age, much like that in which Jesus lived, offers many reasons to withdraw or retreat, maybe even run from it . . . political confusion and animosity, the arrogance of power, incivility, intolerance in relationships, the flagrant disregard of politicians to listen to and value those they serve.
It sure is enough to make one step away and exist in a world which a person creates in order to survive. I get that. I understand that.
The only issue is our individual ability to persevere in the world which we have personally crafted. No matter how hard we try to avoid the harsher reality, it forces its way in.
But there is way to persevere and it is offered in today’s Gospel. It is an invitation like no other we will ever receive.
“Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,”
Jesus invites us to remain in a relationship and to let Him remain in us. When we orient our life around him, we become true disciples. We’re not disciples if we merely know what he’s taught or simply follow him on the outside. We become disciples when we unite ourselves to him on the inside and through, with and in him with each other.
If we become disciples in this way, we begin to have a different outlook and an inner strength that can not be taken away. In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples of the gift of peace that he would leave them. Today, Jesus tells his disciples of the gift of strength and perseverance. The gift that enables us to push through.
Sounds good but perhaps you still wonder, still question, maybe even think this sounds like “church talk.”
But there is one important variable that you may forget, God never forgets that we are his beloved daughters and sons. For all of our faults and all of our failings, God continues to look at us with love.
God loves us with the same love that God loves Jesus. It’s loving us with a love that never ends. It’s a love that tells us how special we are. Like the parent that he is, God tells us, every day, you are my son or daughter. While you may stray from me, how can I ever forget you? I created you and, in that creation, you became mine.
Life will bring its disappointments and adversities. Life will bring its pain. But that is mortal life. Our true inner life with him comes from a wellspring of love. We need to tune into that love every day. We need to remind ourselves every day that we are special because we were created by God. He is our strength and our love. Let each of us feed on that love and then, each day, let us share that love with another.
Then we bear fruit. Then we can nourish our world.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as my All.”
Jesus calls us to a union of love, telling us to remain in his love by keeping his commandments and remaining in his word. He’s told us our union with him should be so profound that whoever receives us receives him, because whoever receives us should be receiving us-in-communion-with-Christ-who-is-himself-in-communion-with-the-Father. Today Jesus points not just to a moral union which is the essence of the Christian life. We enter into an interpersonal communion with the Lord that flows out into deeds. How beautiful is this reality that Jesus wills! And as we attach ourselves to Christ the Vine as his branches, as God’s live flows from the Vine into us the branches, we recognize that we are connected to each other precisely in Christ the Vine.