”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Years ago I lived in California and traveled to the Napa Valley wine country. My first trip there was during the dry season and the vines were just bare, dark brown vines. They seemed to be lacking life and did not seem very beautiful. A few months later I traveled to Napa again, this time during the growing season. It was truly beautiful! The vines were full of green leaves and many colored grapes. The air smelled fresh and fragrant with new growth. The area was full of vitality and beauty.
If I was told during my first trip to believe in the transformation which could take place during the growing season, I could not have imagined the metamorphosis that would take place after the vines had been pruned and fertilized.
Today’s gospel offers a similar experience. Jesus shares his love with us by asking us to remain one in him, by allowing our Lord to prune us so we may grow and flourish. We need to trust him and become one with him. If we believe in him and receive his body and blood in the Eucharist, we are united with him. He nourishes us with eternal life. But if we do not unite with our Lord by receiving the Eucharist and listening to his words, we are nothing. We are not nourished and wither on the vine. We become like the vine that cannot bear fruit, dead and useless, firewood.
Do you long to hear our Lord’s words–do you want to receive the Eucharist? Or do you think you can grow on your own?
—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL
Heavenly Father, please help me to become your disciple, to grow and flourish as a reflection of your love by receiving your Son and uniting with him in the Eucharist. Please help me hear the words of Pope Francis, embrace his love and mercy towards all, pruning and forming me in your image with humility. Amen.Please share the Good Word with your friends!