5th Sunday of Easter (Fr. Francis)
A single hexagonal nut holds the whirling rotors of a helicopter in place. That nut is called the ‘Jesus nut.’ That reminds me of our Gospel today (John 15:1-8) where Jesus describes himself as the true vine and we are the branches feeding from the vine. Just as the ‘Jesus nut’ is the center of the rotary blades holding them together, Jesus is the center of our lives holding us together. We are branches all around Jesus the vine. We were grafted onto the vine, Jesus, on the day we were baptized. We draw the sap from Jesus to give us the energy to live Christian lives. We draw this sap from Jesus when we pray, when we gather here every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist, every time we receive the sacraments, every time we read the Bible.
Today, the church reminds us that Christ is the true vine, and we are his branches. As branches crafted on the true vine, we are expected to bear positive and good fruits in Christ.
Hence, today’s gospel is a call to strengthen our relationship with Christ in order to continue to live in Him. The type of relationship that should exist between us and Christ is illustrated using what is natural to us. That is, the relationship between a vine and it branches.
No branch can have life or bear fruit on its own, unless it is firmly attached to a tree. Likewise, in our spiritual life and journey as Christians, we cannot do without being firmly attached to Christ the vine, in whose name we were baptized. We are created, and called to remain in Christ for a purpose, and this purpose is, to bear good and positive fruits in him.
Today, Christ tells us, “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.” The emphasis should not be only on bearing fruit, but “good fruit.” Indeed, there are many trees that bear different kinds of fruits. Yet, not all their fruits are edible or useful to us.
Some fruits are poisonous, some are full of worms, some are so bitter that many people will dare to taste them, some have thorns and scar people away from touching them. Some are too sugary and sweet that they can cause diabetes, but some fruits are simply sweet, good and refreshing to those who eat them.
Today, the church provides us the opportunity to reflect on our spiritual progress. So, we must pause to ask ourselves these important questions. First, how is my relationship with Christ, the true vine? Am I still living in him? What type of fruit am I bearing? Is it edible and beneficial to my family and community? Is it sweet or bitter?
If our fruits are vices like quarrels, anger, jealousy gossips, backbiting, bitterness, destructive criticisms, (see Gal 5:19-25), we give a very wrong signal to people and create a toxic environment in both our families and communities.
There is a fruit called the Miracle Fruit (Dulcificum Synsepalum). It is called the “miracle fruit”, because it contains an active compound known as Miraculin that causes the plant to make sour and bitter foods taste sweet. The Psalmist invites us, “Taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Ps 34:8). Does your fruit contain Miraculin that adds value and sweetness to people’s life? What kind of aroma does it have, a refreshing or repulsive aroma?
We cannot be in Christ for years and still suffer from spiritual lethargy or dwarfism. No, there must be progress in our union with Him. This progress must be expressed in our trust in him, in our better knowledge of him, in our love for him and for others and in the quality of our fruit. So, let us ask God to nourish us with his spirit, so that we may remain in him and bear good fruits that will benefit others.
If we follow Christ faithfully, we will not only say so in words we will also show with our actions that we are His sisters and brothers, daughters and sons of God the Father. When we were baptized, we Christians acquired the right and the power to be part of the vine that is the Lord. Through faith, prayer in community, the liturgy, and the word, we encounter a new life that will help us to become more united to Christ and His Church.
Fr. A. Francis HGN