Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2018
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 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."
On January 24, 1989, a well-educated young man, who was found guilty of the rape and murder of at least thirty teenage girls, was executed by electric chair. After his execution, his mother was interviewed on television. In tears, she said: "We grieve over the death of my son, because he is still our beloved son despite everything. We did not bring him up to become what he became. But, when he left home, something happened...and he changed."
This family's story is the story of countless other families. Many parents, basically decent, God-fearing and responsible citizens, bring up their children in the best way they can. Children respond well to such care- for a while. When they leave home, "Something happens to them, and they change."
It could all boil down to one thing: connection. We are only as good as those people we allow to inspire us, only as happy as those with whom we share laughter and fun, only as loving as those with whom we share our love.
We are our relationships. This in essence is what today's gospel reminds us. As long as the branch (we) is connected to the vine (Jesus), it can live and bear much fruit. Hence, the Lord says: "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit." Apart from Him, we shall wither and lose our way.
A vine is sturdier than a branch. Similarly, the Lord's love is larger than ours, in fact indefinitely larger. The gospel tells us that we are meant for Him, and that our life is meant to be lived with. Our identity and aspirations will be fully realized only in relation to Him. We stay close to Him, and then we change -- for the better.
by Fr. Narciso Cellan SVD