What It Means To Be a Branch – A reflection on the vine parable (John 15:1-8)

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“Christ the True Vine” (Athens, 16th century)

My husband and I usually go to Mass on Saturdays at 5pm. As we drove up to the church at around 4:35pm, the parking lot was already filled. I began to wonder, What in world is going on? We found a parking spot and then proceeded into the church.

The church was so packed that there was barely any seating left. As I tried to find a seat, I realized all these people were here for a celebration – but what? Then, I remembered that the priest told us last Saturday that at the 5pm Mass, they were going to celebrate First Communions. My husband and I tried to find a seat up front, but most of the people were saving it for their family members. So, my husband and I decided to leave.

You see, we are fortunate to live in between two parishes! We decided to leave and go to the other parish for Mass instead. It was a good thing we did; the priest had a great homily!

The reading for this Sunday was from the Gospel of John 15:1-8. Just in case you’re not familiar with this reading: it’s about Jesus being the Vine, and we are the branches. The priest really caught our interest in demonstrating his homily with an actual plant – saying Jesus is the Vine and that God is the Grower. We are the branches on that Vine, and the Father would be pleased to see the branches bear fruit. As long as we remain in Him, we will be that branch bearing fruit.

Well, how can we remain in God? I began to ask myself.

My question was answered later that day as I read a reflection in my Magnificat prayer book. It affirmed what the priest had said earlier that day, or what the Gospel said – that if we remain in God, we will bear fruit. “Remaining in Him” began for us with baptism, and continues throughout our lives with the rest of the sacraments. In the reflection that I read, Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen (a Belgian Carmelite priest, teacher and spiritual director in 1952); wrote,

“Abide in me and I in you.” The more closely we are united to Christ by faith, charity and good works done with the intention of pleasing God, the more intensely will he live in us and bestow on us continually a new life of grace. Thus we shall become, not merely living branches, but branches laden with fruit, the fruit of sanctity destined to bring joy to the heart of God, for Jesus has said: “in this is my Father glorified, that you bring forth very much fruit” (John 15:8).

So instead of being out in the hot sun, working hard on your back or front yard, work on your own inner garden and bear that fruit so all can see God glorified in you!!!

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