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 everyone 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: Bearing more fruit from the vine
Is your life making a difference? Are people brought closer to God as a result of spending time with you? (And I don’t mean, do they have to run to God for help because you’re causing them problems!) If you’re connected to Jesus, like a branch of the vine in today’s Gospel reading, then the answer is yes, you are making a difference, you are evangelizing the world around you.
Are people attracted to you? Do they want to be near you because of the love you share? When others go through difficulties, do they come to you for prayers, wisdom, compassionate understanding, or some other attribute of Christ? If yes, then you are bearing his fruit on the vine.
We’re all in need of some pruning so that our vines become more deeply grafted into Jesus and we produce better fruits. Sometimes we scrape others with dead branches that are leafless and hard and broken. Being pruned of these ugly, diseased and poisonous twigs is painful, but it’s good that the Father cares enough to trim them away. Pruning enables growth, and thus we become stronger and more beautiful.
In today’s first reading, we have an example of well-intentioned Christians who scraped others with old branches. As Pharisees, they legalistically clung to old Jewish ways by insisting that Gentile converts subscribe to all Mosaic laws. But in the verses that follow, we see that God was able to prune them because they had grafted themselves into Jesus. They listened to Paul and Barnabas and allowed the Holy Spirit to change their minds.
Jesus wants to bring peace to others through you. To bear his good fruits, let God prune away everything that does not come from Jesus:
Come to Me, My friend
I call you to a deeper surrender of yourself
I call you to come to Me
I call you to come to My freedom
Unloose your heart
Surrender again to Me today
Come to Me, My friend
I will give you all you need
Believe and trust in Me
I know you will not understand
Only know My way is the perfect way
My plan is a perfect plan for your life
Turn yourself to Me again today
I wish to deepen My life in you
I wish to give you My love
My friend, I want to transform you
to make you a new creation,
ever new, ever changing
I want to bring you into a deeper freedom
I want you to believe in My power
to transform you, to heal you
Do not limit what I can do
There is still so much MORE
I want to do with you and through you
I call you to a deeper faith
that I may be still
more powerful in you
(Written by Father Jim Ferry, quoted on his Memorial Card when he died in 1989.)
Jesus, I ask You to forgive me for all those times in which I closed my ears to Your Holy Spirit because I didn’t want to be corrected. Come again, Lord, and take away from me everything that’s not coming from You. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica