5th Sunday of Easter (Yr b)
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty”.
I remember in my younger days, helping my parents tidy up the garden at the start of spring, seeing the new growth around me, but being amazed with the amount of dead garden waste I could gather up into bags.
The gospel is telling us that it is surprising the amount of deadwood that can be found in people’s lives. Our life is no different from a garden. If we are to get the best out of them they will need caring and nurturing.
We have to listen to Jesus the true vine and rid ourselves of deadwood, which left unchecked, will choke and destroy our Christian growth. This means cutting away what is useless and nourish what is healthy and good. The pruning we need is a cleansing of our whole being – Body, Mind and Soul.
When a gardener prunes a new plant it is in order to ‘train & shape’ it before they are allowed to produce a crop. In the same way, Christians require time to grow and train, in order to help them become rooted in their faith.
Gardeners also prune in order to improve the vine’s potential, the same way with us, we are shaped and looked after to reach our maximum potential in our faith.
Failure to produce fruit results in separation from Christ by the intervention of the Father the vine grower, but through pruning we are strengthened by the removing of deadwood that would cause us to decay and hinder our growth.
This image of the vine grower shows us in a deeper way our necessity to have a close relationship with Christ. Jesus is one with us, as He is with the Father. This unity produces the good that we do in our lives. When Christ lives in us, we are striving to live uprightly as possible.
For a Christian, it is not easy to stay in good spiritual shape, everyone can benefit with a little pruning, in order to bear fruit.
If Jesus is to have an effect on this world, it is through his followers, living in such a way that people will see the ‘hand of God’ at work in their daily lives. Christ is dependent upon us being his hands and his voice carrying the Light of Christ and speaking the Good News to others.
The fruit is our life of obedience to the commandments, living out the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
This allows us not only to perform good acts, but also to give the best of ourselves. We need to be open to transformation, to become more like Christ and to show love to our neighbours.
In the words of St. Paul this means, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are a sign of God’s love for humanity in the world. The virtuous person tends to look towards good with all their sensory and spiritual powers, and chooses it in their daily actions.
The greatest contribution each one of us can make is to allow Christ’s love to seep deeply into our own life, through the vine, and the fruit we will produce will be unimaginable.
Staying close to Christ will give us courage in our faith to act wisely, we have heard in our first reading that St. Paul preached boldly at Damascus and speaking fearlessly in Jerusalem in the name of Jesus. With the power of the Holy Spirit we can do the same, spreading the Gospel message, and showing people how we should behave by our actions of Faith, Hope and Charity.
God demands a lot from his children, being good Christians and joined to the true vine of Jesus Christ, let us all strive together and make the church a vibrant community by living good and fruitful lives.