Remaining And Bearing Fruit In Christ The True Vine
Readings: (1st: Acts 9-26-31 Ps 21, 26-32; 2nd: 1Jn 3, 18-24; Gos: Jh 15, 1-5)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this fifth Sunday of Easter, the church reminds us that when we believe and remain in Christ, our true vine, that God lives in us, and we live in Him. So we are invited to reflect on our relationship with Christ the true vine and, also its effect both on our lives and on the lives of others around us. We are also expected and encouraged to bear positive and good fruits.
In our first reading today, one remarkable thing we see about Paul is that once he became dramatically converted, his life changed completely. He believed in the name of Jesus Christ and became a great preacher. He did not waste time before bearing fruit for Christ. Immediately, he moved from Saul the persecutor to Paul the preacher of the good news. The consequence of his conversion and firm belief in the name of Jesus was a great harvest of souls which continues till our time because of his writings in the New Testaments. He succeeded because he was a “deeply rooted branch” in Christ the true vine. Not only that he remained in Christ, but he bore abundant and lasting fruit through his works and actions.
This is what John means in our second reading when he says: “My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active, only by this can we be certain that we are the children of truth…” John seems to remind us of the popular saying that: “Action speaks louder than words.” We cannot love the word of God without concrete works of charity to show for it. The only way the word of God can bear fruit is through work and truthful living. They are what touches and transforms persons. So by “something real and active,” John means charity and living according to what we profess in Jesus Christ. John summarizes it: “…That we believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us. Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.” In order words, according to John, what proves who we really are in Christ are the concrete expressions of charity and love for others. These are what will give us the confidence to declare with a clear conscience that we are truly in him.
The gospel of this Sunday is a call for us to strengthen our relationship with Christ in order to continue to live in Him. The type of relationship that should exist between us and Christ is illustrated using what is natural to us in everyday life. That is the relationship between the trees and their branches. No branch as we see and know can have life or bear fruit on its own unless it is firmly attached to a tree. Likewise, in our spiritual life as Christians, we cannot do without being firmly attached to Christ the vine in whose name we have been baptized. However, it is important to note that remaining in Christ is for a purpose. This purpose is to bear fruit. Instead of a passive action that produces no effects, it means an active and lively action that produces charity, peace, holiness, pure reverence, love for God and our neighbours, and many other good virtues that touch other lives positively.
Finally, today provides us another opportunity to ask ourselves the following questions. How is my relationship with Christ my saviour? Am I still attached to Christ or has something gone wrong somewhere? How is my relationship with Christ helping others around me positively? These questions are necessary because, we cannot say we believe in Christ and live in him, while living in enmity with those around us; whiles we neglect the cries of the weak, the sick, and the poor around us. Therefore if we are truly in Christ, we must bear positive fruits of charity towards others. That is, by performing actions that must motivate others to become united to Christ the true vine. Let us sing to Christ our true vine this glorious Sunday: “! You Lord are my praise in the great assembly!” Alleluia, Alleluia.
Peace be with you!