Ps 22:26-28, 30-32
1 John 3:18-24
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
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.
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.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Good News Reflection: How God stops evil
As we see in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, all of us who belong to Christ are fruit-bearing branches of one vine. Jesus is the vine, and because we are all attached to him, we share the same calling: to bear good fruit. And not just any fruit that seems good, but the same fruit that Jesus produced.
However, most of us underestimate how important this is! You are more valuable than you know. God wants you to produce Christ’s fruit – and more of it. Today too many Christians are settling for mediocrity. As long as we get some personal satisfaction from being Christian, we feel all too easily satisfied. As long as we’re helping some people with our kindness or generosity or love, we think God is satisfied with the good fruits we’re producing.
Have you ever asked why there’s so much evil in the world? Why doesn’t God raise his almighty hand against war, against corruption in government, against the greed of high-salaried managers who lay off their employees while giving themselves huge bonuses, against the perpetrators of physical and emotional abuse, against legislation that discriminates against Christian faith, against rising crime rates, or against any evil that’s corrupting our world?
Why doesn’t God do something?
Actually, he does! However, he does it the same way he grows grapes. The life-force of the vine (Jesus) travels through the vine to the little twigs (you and me and all Christians) that hold the grapes. The more open we are to receiving nourishment from Christ, the more fruit Jesus produces through us. But the grapes are not supposed to stay there!
We’re nourished by Christ in order to take his fruits abundantly out into the world. We must grow strong and healthy, branch out, and use everything we’ve received from Christ for the sake of others.
Evil is stopped to the extent that we Christians continue Christ’s earthly ministry. Victory over evil comes from Christ, that is, through us from Christ. Holiness in the world comes from Christ’s Holy Spirit actively transforming it through our holiness.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
Are you doing everything you can to grow the best grapes on your branch of Christ’s vine? How healthy is your connection to Christ? What in your life needs to be pruned off because it’s not producing full, abundant fruit?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Name some of the things we do that fertilize the vineyard. What has helped your branch grow stronger and bear more fruit? How does ignoring the need to prune ourselves hinder the growth of good fruit — evil-defeating good fruit?
Thank You, Jesus, for trusting me! Help me never separate myself from You because apart from you I can do nothing. You are my way, my truth, and my life. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica