Jesus is the vine and his disciples, the branches. Remaining in Jesus, and he in them, the disciples bear much fruit.
Remaining now in the true vine, Paul gives much fruit. He does not only speak boldly in the name of Jesus. He also toils harder than all the other apostles who received their call ahead of him. Undoubtedly, he proclaims the word at all times. And because Paul keeps the faith that he once tried to destroy, those who doubted him before now glorify God.
Yes, the sap from the vine makes a huge difference. Unless the vine passes on to the branches its “lifeblood,” they dry up. That is to say, we cannot do without grace; without it, we will “wither away” (SV.EN IX:316). And since grace comes through Jesus Christ, we can do nothing without him. He is, indeed, the vine whose vine grower is the Father himself.
Jesus is God’s new vineyard, of the best variety, of cherished plants. He bears the fruit of faithfulness and justice that he looks for in his people. We have to remain, then, in Jesus. Otherwise, we will yield wild grapes.
No, we surely cannot settle for the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. True, such righteousness represents efforts to fulfill exactly the law that we have received through Moses. Well and good, for there is need for efforts, excellence and strict observance. But the trouble is that many a strict keeper of the law harbors close-mindedness, pride, self-sufficiency. Such one does not ask for help. That is because he feels he can do everything, is above others and has a right to everything.
And these are the feelings or weaknesses that the Father seeks to prune away through his Son’s words. He wants us to empty ourselves and clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ, aware that, without God’s grace, we will spoil everything (SV.EN XI:310-311).
Lord Jesus, make us love you in deed and truth and remain in you, the true vine. Turn us into the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and so yields much fruit. May we live what we celebrate in the Eucharist.
29 April 2018
Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)
Acts 9, 26-31; 1 Jn 3, 18-24; Jn 15, 1-8