Christ the True Vine

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

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 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.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, True Vine, help me remain in you always. Keep me close to you. Bless all my works, and help me remember that everything I do is for your glory, not my own.
Encountering Christ:

  1. Remain in Christ: Jesus exhorts us to remain with him: “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” Remaining in Christ means staying close to him, as close as a branch that grows from a vine. They are completely connected. Remaining close to Christ means structuring our lives around loving and serving Jesus. We remain in Christ through the life-sustaining vine of the Church and the sacraments. This includes daily prayer, Scripture reading, receiving the sacraments, keeping God’s commandments, and worshipping him in the Mass and in the adoration chapel. Jesus specifically told his disciples that receiving him in the Eucharist is a crucial way to remain in him: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:56). When we frequently and prayerfully receive Holy Communion, we are able to stay very close to Jesus. By keeping Christ’s commandments and receiving him in the Eucharist, we remain in him. We stay close to him. We become like him.
  2. Fruitful Branches: Fruitfulness can be defined as how we as Christians bear love into the world. Indeed, Jesus is the true vine, and we bear fruit by remaining in him; therefore the fruit we bear comes through us from God, who is love (1 John 4:8). When we are connected to Christ, the Holy Spirit nourishes and sustains us. The love of God comes through Christ, the vine, into us, the branches. In order to bear fruit, our role is to stay connected to Christ. It can be easy to fall into the mistake of thinking that we must do the work of bearing the fruit; however, consider that the branches of a grapevine do not work. By simply staying connected to the central vine, the life of the plant flows through them, erupting in leaves, flowers, and fruit. So it is with us: When connected to Christ, the power of God’s love flows through us, producing spiritual fruits of virtues and good works.
  3. Glory to God: Being fruitful is a mark of holiness. Lumen Gentium describes the faithful people who are striving for holiness as “an abundant harvest of good” (40). In order to be an abundant harvest for the Lord, the faithful should seek to “follow in his footsteps and conform themselves to his image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor.” Notice that God is glorified when we bear fruit. We are merely channels of God’s work, the branches that bear God’s fruit. One would say that beautiful, ripe apples are the product of the tree, not the branch that bears them. In the same way, the good works that we do are truly God’s accomplishments, borne out in our lives. When we strive to love and serve the Lord for his glory, his will is accomplished in us. When we live in this way, we are lights on a lampstand, shining before others, doing good works and so giving glory to God (cf. Matthew 5:15-16).

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me remain in you so I can bear good fruit for your glory. Help me to always remember how very close you come to me when I receive you in Holy Communion. Give me your strength to carry out my discipleship and ministry. Help me remember that it is you who complete the good works that I do. Help me see that without you I can do nothing, but with you I can do all things (cf. Philippians 4:13). 
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will prayerfully meditate on the image of the vine and the branches. I will picture myself receiving your love and then watch it flow through me to others as good works of love and mercy.
For Further Reflection: Watch this video by Dr. Brant Pitre, “Abide in Me – The Vine and the Branches.”
Written by Carey Boyzuck.

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