During Easter time we have heard different titles for Jesus: Living Bread, Good Shepherd. If you remember from last Sunday’s Gospel, we were told that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep. We should listen to His voice.
In today’s Gospel, the image is that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The connection to God is an even closer relationship. A vine is not a tree or a big shrub, where you have a trunk and a lot of branches. The vine is just branches. Jesus identifies himself with us. It is obvious that a branch cut off from the vine will wither. Whenever a branch is cut off from the vine, the vine itself is diminished. To destroy a branch is to destroy the vine in some measure; to cut off a brother or sister in Christ is to cut off Christ. “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” We are united to the vine.
Every time that we receive communion, we are receiving His Body and Blood, and are being nourished by Him, giving us His Divine life. We can do the same things that Jesus did because His life is in us, and is flowing in our arteries and veins. We can also bear fruit, as Jesus bore fruit. “Bearing fruit” as it is mentioned in today’s Gospel, is what the second reading is talking about: “let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
St. Catherine of Siena used to say that words are like leaves, and that a tree with only leaves does not do any good to the farmer. We need to produce fruit, good deeds. If we are disconnected from the vine, Jesus, we die like a dead branch. When we receive our energy from our Source, we bear fruit and glorify our God. This Sunday we are reminded that we are called to bear fruit in abundance. Let us ask ourselves how much fruit am I bearing in my life, and how much I am allowing God to prune me, to take away what is hindering me, so that I can bear fruit in abundance.
Peace, Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
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