Meditating on today’s Gospel passage (John 15:1-8), we are given the opportunity to reflect on the importance of having a strong relationship with Our Lord so that we can strive to become fully human -- all who He calls us to be.
Our Lord tells His disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower… You are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
Our Lord' words emphasize our need to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the Vine, the true Vine. He is the Word made flesh, the union of the human and divine natures.
Our Lord has come into our world so that we can we can share in the life of His divinity. He has come to give us life within us so that we
may not perish but have life everlasting!
Yet, we are told that if we want to live with God in His Spirit, then we are called to make changes in our lives now.
Our Lord reminds us that His Father “takes away every branch in Him that does not bear fruit, and every one that does He prunes.”
We all have seen a tree or bush before and after it has been pruned… Before it is pruned the tree has all wild branches and thistles. Yet, when it is pruned, it is cut to a small size and grows back very healthy. The dead branches are cut off, and the wild branches are trimmed.
This is what God must do if His grace will live inside us. We must allow God in our lives to cut off what is not of His Kingdom and prune what comes from this world. We must die to our old sinful nature so that we can live in the Spirit of truth and goodness.
When we hear and accept the word of Our Lord, He already prunes us. However, this life-giving bond with the vine must not be taken for granted! Our life of union begins at baptism, but it is not perfected yet.
Being pruned hurts. We go against our fallen nature. God is clipping away our bad habits and lifestyles that go against holiness and the natural law in which He created us.
You see, each one of us was born into original sin. Sin has brought corruption into our human nature. We are wounded. We have inclinations or innate tendencies for fleshly appetites that lead us away from living as God created us to live in our original innocence.
Sin means we are missing the mark. We are not living the full holiness and happiness for which we were created. Not only that, but sin separates us from God. Sin removes us from the vine of His grace. Jesus said, “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither. People will gather them into a fire and they will be burned.”
Hell is a real place, and we are reminded of this truth time and time again throughout the Gospels. But Our Lord does not want anyone to go there. This is why he died on the cross.
God created our minds and our bodies to be holy. He created us to use our intellect and our physical nature for His proper order in our humanity. Our Lord has come to point us to this reality so that we can repent and change our lives… He calls us to deny our sinful nature and take up our cross and follow Him!
Being pruned hurts, but it is worth it. God wants to make us into something great! God wants to form us as a diamond is cut, shaped, and polished to look beautiful.
God invites us to be part of His very being, one with Him in His Son.
But we must remain in the Lord: “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.”
|Fr. John Paul Shea|