Gospel Reflection – I am the Vine

Make your home in me  (John 15:1-9)

One of the saddest features of society today is the number of people who are homeless and sleeping rough.  But another sort of homelessness is the plight of people who have lost all contact with God.   The Gospel today (John 15:1-9) recalls one of the seven great “I am” statements in John’s Gospel. “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me, with me in them, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.”   Jesus invites us to make our home in him.

At home with God

The invitation to remain in contact is so important that it is mentioned no fewer than ten times in this Chapter.  “Make your home in me as I make mine in you.”  A house is a structure but it does not become a home until people live in it.   Home is where you belong and where you are always welcome when you return.  A Christian is as much at home with Christ as a branch is with a tree.  The life of a true disciple is rooted and grounded in Christ and always returns to Christ for meaning, sustenance and energy.  “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Cut off a branch from the plant and it withers.   It is impossible to live a vibrant Christian life without a steady, daily life of prayer.  In fact, the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek words for in-God.

Pruning

The grapevine is a plant that requires a pruning in spring and a second pruning a month before harvesting the grapes.  Without the early pruning the vine will send out far too many tendrils and leaves.  “You are pruned already by means of the word that I have spoken to you.”  This refers to John Chapter 6 where Jesus taught the doctrine of his presence in the Blessed Eucharist.  Many of the listeners said this was intolerable nonsense, so they walked away and were cut off from Jesus.  But Peter spoke up for the apostles and declared that they were staying.

The second pruning, a month before vintage, snips off the weaker fruits to provide more sap  for the stronger crop.  The apostles would experience this second pruning when they would suffer persecution.

We ask ourselves where do we need pruning.  Where do we need self-discipline to find more time for our relationship with God … for relationship with family … for helping others?  Where are we wasting the time and talents God gave us?

Spirit-filled evangelisers

The source of sap for growth in the Christian life is the Holy Spirit.   In a world becoming increasingly secularistic, Pope Francis sees the need for Spirit-filled evangelisers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit, filling us with an interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity.  He wants to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelisation full of fervour, joy, generosity, boundless love and attraction.

Fruit hangs on fragile twigs

When we hear of our invitation to be active evangelisers our first reaction may be a sense of our inadequacy.  It is important to remember that the sap of life comes up from strong roots and branches, but blossoms and fruit appear only on the fragile twigs and tendrils.   History shows us that many of those who bore great fruit in God’s service were people who were conscious of their past failures.  Moses had murdered a man.  King David’s moment of lust instigated a train of evil deeds.  Paul persecuted the followers of Jesus but after his conversion he learned to smile at his own deficiencies.  He saw how God deliberately chooses the weak and foolish of this world to confound the wise and strong, so that it might be plainly seen that whatever fruit is borne comes from God rather than human powers.  So, whatever your own fears, trust in the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you are the vine, we are the branches.  Apart from you we can do nothing.  Grant us the grace to remain at home in you.  Take away our fears and reluctance to get involved.  Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may bear fruit and do our little part in making this a better world for all.

News, Cafe Cappuccino, Prayer Space