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Life and Fruit
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Optional Memorial of Saint John I, Pope and Martyr)
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: Holy Spirit, as I settle myself into this time of prayer, I open myself to your action in my life. I believe in your presence within me. I trust that through your guidance and inspirations I may abide ever more deeply in the heart of Jesus. I trust your action in me that increases my fruitfulness in building the Kingdom.
- Sap and Life: The Catechism says, “The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father’s vine which bears much fruit on its branches (CCC 1108). What is sap? Simply put, it is the life’s blood of the plant. Sap flows through a plant to nourish it and bring new growth. It also helps protect and heal the plant. Our union with the vine, our life in Christ, requires the life of the Holy Spirit within us. This life is received in Baptism (CCC 1266) and increased and deepened in Confirmation (CCC 1303), as well as in our daily prayer, the sacraments of Holy Communion and Reconciliation, acts of charity and mercy, and all that makes up our Christian walk. Like the sap of a plant, the life of grace nourishes our union with God, helps us grow, and protects and heals us.
- Pruning and Fruitfulness: As we abide in Christ and are nourished by the life of grace, we are meant to bear fruit. We are meant to give of ourselves to build up the Kingdom of Christ on Earth. Jesus said, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Luke 10:2). We often think of this Scripture in terms of praying for priestly vocations, but all the Christian faithful, the baptized of every vocation and state in life, are called to labor for the Lord. Pruning spurs growth and fruitfulness. What is it we need to prune in our life to grow in union with the Lord and become more fruitful disciples?
- Fruitfulness and Glorifying God: It is an essential element of Christian life; all the Christian faithful are called to bear fruit. And Jesus said, “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Our fruitfulness glorifies God. Speaking specifically about the laity, the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity states, “The apostolate of the laity derives from their Christian vocation and the Church can never be without it. Sacred Scripture clearly shows how spontaneous and fruitful such activity was at the very beginning of the Church (cf. Acts 11:19-21; 18:26; Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 4:3).” In fact, this action of lay men and women in the life of the Church is so important that “for the most part, the apostolate of pastors cannot be fully effective without it (CCC 900, quoting Lumen Gentium 33). Our actions are meant to bring the light and life of Christ to the world and are essential to the mission of the Church. How do we choose to use the gifts and talents Jesus has given us to build the Kingdom and glorify the Father?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I thank you that my life matters in your plan of salvation. It is a gift to know that you trust me to be united with you in building your Kingdom. Lord, there are so many demands on my time. Help me see how to prioritize my life to serve you better. Help me see how I can best use the gifts and talents you have given me in your service. Fill me with zeal to build your Kingdom and with your love for each person I meet.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will consider the needs around me and ask you to show me if there is some action I can take to address those needs.
For Further Reflection: Consider this discussion of the lay apostolate: Catholic Apostolate Center.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.