Daily Reflection
May 12th, 2004
Brigid Quinn Laquer
Preventive Medicine
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Acts 15:1-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
John 15:1-8

As we continue through John’s Gospel today we have Jesus’ “I am the Vine” discourse.  There is a wonderful reflection on this discourse called Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson if you are interested in reflecting deeper about this beautiful call to discipleship.

Grape vines, unless meticulously cared for, usually do not produce much fruit.  Their natural growth pattern is to produce creeping vines along the ground or on anything that they can find for support.  If you have ever seen a vineyard or pictures of one you will notice that the vine is thick and strong and stands about waist height, with the branches trained to grow along the trellises. The branches are pruned so that the nutrients can produce more fruit and not be wasted supporting excess vegetative growth.  This is the work of the vine grower.

Jesus describes four types of branches in his parable: the ones that bear no fruit; ones that bear fruit; those that bear more fruit; and those that bear much fruit.  It might seem that we are just talking about outward appearances as is being argued in the reading from Acts, but Jesus makes it clear that abundance is related to inward movements and intentions.

This is not about evangelization of others, but evangelization of ourselves.  Bearing fruit is the destiny of all believers.  Jesus wants us to bear fruit and bear it abundantly.  Jesus asks us to accept the commandments, the teachings and the disciplines of our faith.  This is how we are “trained” so that we can bear more fruit. 

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you…you will bear much fruit.” What is Jesus telling us? How are we to remain in God?  How do we “remain” in anyone?  Once we have a relationship with someone then they ‘remain’ in our thoughts.  They ‘remain’ in our intentions and motivations.  We ‘are’ for them and ‘do’ for them even when they are not around.  We are open to them, available to them, tolerant and forgiving of their failings. You could say that we are “pruned” when we develop a relationship with them. 

In a “fruitful” relationship this is reciprocal: we ‘remain’ in their thoughts, in their intentions and motivations.  They ‘are’ and ‘do’ for us and are forgiving of our failings.  How is that relationship developed?  Time.  We make time for them; they are a priority in our life.  We do not need to schedule them into our day, rather our day is scheduled around them.  We “prune” everything else so we have productive time to spend with them.

So, how do we “remain” in God?  Set apart the kind of time that will build relationship.  Deepen the quality of the time we set apart to God.  Allowing God to “train” (the Latin word is disciplina) us and “prune” us.  We need to be available, open and accepting of our human failings, trusting that God will provide whatever we need to ‘be’ and ‘do’ what is asked of us.

Bearing much
fruit is the destiny of every believer.  If God chose us for abundance, God created us to deeply desire abundance.  How can we ever hope to find fulfillment with a ½ -empty basket of grapes?

Lord, help me today and everyday to remain in you so that I may offer an abundance of the fruit of your love to all who I encounter.  Amen.

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