Read John 15:1-8
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... Read More…
Meet Sister Elizabeth Sichangi Nekesa
Elizabeth Nekesa is my name, a daughter of Julie. I am in my 5th year of religious profession. Read More…
Today is the fifth Sunday of Easter, and the readings emphasize the need for Christians to abide in Christ as a condition for producing fruits of kindness, mercy, charity and holiness. The first reading, ACTS 9: 26-31, testifies to the abundance of spiritual fruits yielded by the apostles because of their close bond with the risen Lord. The reading tells us how the Lord pruned the former Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, the fanatic who had persecuted the Church, to produce a fruit-bearing branch called Paul, the zealous Apostle to the Gentiles, entirely dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel. Even Paul’s forced return to Tarsus for a brief period is an example of God’s pruning of the vine to bring forth a greater harvest, namely, the mission to the Gentiles.
The second reading, 1 JOHN 3:18-24, explains that only if we remain united to Christ by putting our faith in Him and drawing our spiritual strength from Him, will we be able to obey God’s commandments, especially the commandment of love.
In the Gospel, Jn 15: 1-8, taken from the Last Supper discourse, Jesus uses his favorite image of the vine and branches to help his disciples understand the closeness of their relationship with him and the necessity of their maintaining it. They are not simply rabbi and disciples. Their lives are mutually dependent - as close as a vine and its branches. In fact, in using this image, Jesus is explaining to them and to us what our relationship with him should be like. The vine is a well-known biblical symbol of God’s people. While celebrating the Exodus, which is the deliverance of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt and their possession of the Promised Land, the psalmist pictures God as a vine grower: “A vine from Egypt you transplanted; you drove away the nations and planted it.” (Ps 80:8).
For His part, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” He wants to teach us the extreme necessity for us to remain in Him. What then do we learn this Sunday?
First, remain in Christ. This means listening to Him and keeping His words. These two must go together, listening to Christ and keeping His word. At times, we refuse to listen to Him. Other times we listen to Him and then render Him lip service unsupported by any good deeds. Remaining in Christ is listening to His word and remaining faithful to it come rain or sunshine. It also means seeing God in all persons and things, even in our enemies and those things that we don’t like. It means having an active sacramental and prayer life.
Second, we need pruning in our Christian life. Paul’s life was pruned constantly. He lived under the guidance of the Spirit. Pruning for us means cutting out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus and renewing our commitment to Christian ideals in our lives every day is the first type of self-imposed pruning expected of us. A second means of pruning is practicing self-control over our evil inclinations, sinful addictions and aberrations. Cordial mingling with people of different cultures, races, religions and orientations in our neighborhood and society enables us to prune away our selfish and prejudicial tendencies and to treat others in our society with Christian charity and openness. Jesus prunes, purifies and strengthens us by allowing us to face pain and suffering, contradictions and difficulties with courage of our Christian convictions.
Lastly, be in communion. No branch can live on its own. It needs the whole tree, including others’ branches. For us, this means that we must live in the Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ, in accordance with the statement of one of the Popes that “Who does not have the Church as his/her Mother, cannot have God as his/her Father.” This calls for two critical things, humility and obedience. To be able to live well with others and the leaders in our Church we must at all times exercise humility and obedience. The attitude of self-sufficiency