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 everyone 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.”
I am currently at Mundelein Seminary visiting our 4 seminarians and showing the seminary to two other young men who are in discernment. We are also having our Region 7 (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana) Vocation Directors meetings here at Mundelein. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families during the Masses here at the seminary.
“I am the vine, you are the branches.” This Scripture passage has been quoted many times throughout the years. What does it mean for us to remain in the vine, connected to the source of Life?
The first way to remain in the vine is hearing the Word of God, reading the Scriptures, getting to know Jesus Christ through the inspired Word. How can we stay connected to something or Someone without knowing them? Jesus says, “You are already pruned by the word I spoke to you.” The Word of God is not always easy to follow. Sometimes it cuts us to the core. Sometimes it convicts us of our sinful actions. But that is the Gardener pruning away what does not bear fruit. Also, St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Jesus.”
Another way to remain connected to Jesus, the vine, is prayer. Just as we cannot grow in our human relationships without spending quality time with them, we certainly cannot grow in our relationship with Christ without spending quality prayer time with Him. It is time to slow down, turn off the cell phones, ipods, computers, TV’s, DVD’s, CD’s, etc. and “be still and know that I am God.” You may not see immediate, tangible results from this prayer time, but I guarantee that if you invest the time with the Lord, He will transform you from the inside out. Over time the Lord will change you and give you a peace that is everlasting. And I recommend that you speak directly TO the Lord in prayer; don’t just think ABOUT the Lord. Talk to Him like you talk to your best friend.
Another way to remain connected to the vine is attending Mass as often as possible and receiving grace through the Sacraments. In the Catholic tradition, this is possible every day. We can meditate on the Scriptures and receive the Body and Blood of Christ on a daily basis. Jesus says in John 6, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” And coming together to worship unites us with the larger Body of Christ and calls us each to live a life of holiness. From the very beginning of the Church after Jesus ascended into heaven, the early Christian community gathered to break open the word and share in the breaking of the bread. When we gather together at Mass we continue this unbroken tradition that has been going on for over 2000 years. If we truly believed Jesus was present in the Eucharist, our churches would be full every day of the year!
Let us take time today to reflect on how well we are connected to the vine. We cannot bear fruit on our own. We cannot fake our way through this relationship with Jesus. The only way to bear real fruit is to allow the Lord Jesus to transform our lives. Just as the life flows to the branches through the main vine, may the grace of Jesus course through our veins by remaining in Him in Word, Sacrament and prayer.
Do I seek to abide in the Lord, the vine, every day?
Do I make Mass and confession a priority so that I can remain in His grace?
Do I allow the Word of God to wash over me daily?
Have a blessed day!