HE IS THE VINE, WE ARE THE BRANCHES (cf. John 15:5)
📕Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22:26b-27, 28 and 30, 31-32 (R.v.26b); 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8
Last Sunday, we reflected on Jesus the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Today, we reflect of Jesus, the vine that gives life and provides strength to his disciples, the branches. Without the vine, the branches are nothing. After all these lessons that show us how much God loves and cares for us, next Sunday, which would be the last Sunday before the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, Jesus would now send forth his disciples to go and show others equal amount of love that he has shown us (cf. John 15:12-14), and through that, bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God.
In essence, Jesus actually needs us to bear that fruit. It is in that that his mission would be considered successful. Try to imagine a vine without the branches. It would not have leaves. And we know that during photosynthesis, it is the leaves that absorb light and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrate (food) for plants to grow. That means, a vine without the branches (or enough branches) cannot feed properly. Are we truly branches of this vine, Jesus? If we are not, we are depriving that vine of good nutrition and frustrating its growth. That is a betrayal, and woe to us if we become part of that betrayal (see Matt 26: 24).
Again, without the branches, the vine would not be able to produce good fruits. Without the good fruits of the vine, men would be deprived of good wine from the vine. Can we not see that without being true branches of the vine, we shall be truncating Gods plan to give his children choicest wine (cf. Isa 55:1) and more importantly that which shall be served on the Mountain of the Lord (cf. Isa 25:6).
Yet, even with all those importance of the branch, it cannot stand on its own. It needs the vine to bear leaf and fruit. That is what we call a symbiotic relationship. The branch needs the vine and the vice versa.
It is important to equally note that the vine needs to be given an exceptional care in order to bear good fruits. So the Father, who serves as the gardener waters and cares for the vine, pruning it as the farmers would do for effectiveness. Can you see the connection between the sufferings of a Christian and the pruning of the vine plant? St James tells us that God allows trials to come our way so that our faith would be strengthened, and when we successfully go through the trial, we shall receive the crown of life that he promised (cf. James 1:2-12). Moreover, the scripture says in many places that God chastises those whom he loves so that he might correct them (cf. Prov 3:12; Ps 94:12; Job 5:17-18; 1 Cor 11:32; Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19).
We can see then why St. Paul had to bear the trials and persecution that came his way in good faith. As such, he was able to make an enormous claim, I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20). We too can make such a claim. We may no longer be able to suffer physically like the early Christians and some missionaries in difficult places today. But we can do so by allowing Gods love to be our rule of life.
Christianity is a vocation of love, and every Christian is expected to bear a fruit of love. It is only in such a way that we can remain a part of Christ, a branch of the vine that would gain not only our lives, but also the lives of those who put their trust in God.
Have a blessed and fruitful Sunday. Peace be with you.