First Reading: Acts 9:26-31
Second Reading: 1 John 3:18-24
Gospel: John 15:1-8
I can picture the grapevines that my dad planted in our backyard, when I was growing up. The branches seem to spread everywhere. The life of the branch depended on the vine. Apart from the vine, the branch would soon wither and die. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.
Jesus spoke to a people very well acquainted with the cultivation of grapes. An uncultivated, wild vine clings to everything, rocks, trees, bushes etc. The fruit of the wild vine is often small and bitter. On the other hand, the cultivated vine is tall and sturdy, producing large and tasty fruit. The vineyard owner knows how to cultivate and carefully prune. In the same way, we have a master cultivator in God the Father, who knows how to prune away anything that prevents us from having a deep personal relationship with His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ – then we will bear abundant fruit. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
I noticed that some of the vines in my backyard had no fruit and others contained clusters of grapes. The branches with no fruit needed to be pruned, as they took nutrients from the productive branches. Jesus gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which He prunes away our sinful inclinations and habits. We leave the Confessional, pruned of all our dead and unproductive branches.
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. What is the fruit that Jesus calls us to bear? We remain in Jesus through prayer, knowing and living the Word, receiving Holy Eucharist and helping the brother or sister in Christ in need.
May the Risen Christ bless you!