May 18, 2022
by Chas Kestermeier S.J.
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 287

Acts 15:1-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
John 15:1-8

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One of the things that have come to strike me more and more forcefully in recent years is that our human experience, of ourselves and of our world, is a matter not only of change but of growth.  We must remember that not all change is growth, for some of the change we choose leads us away from God and towards death.  And that is what this Gospel reading is speaking about to me: choosing growth rather than just accepting change...

You have heard the words “Don’t just stand there; DO something,” but when it comes to seeking and accomplishing true growth we must begin, even on a daily basis, to not just do what feels right (contrary to what Nike urges) but to pause and prayerfully reflect on where it is that God is calling us to grow and to what sort of growth.  We do need to begin by just listening in silence and humility to hear and discern what God hopes from us; only then can our “doing something” really mean anything.  “Don’t just DO something, STAND THERE AND THINK about what is going on.”

The image that Jesus uses for himself in today’s reading from John stresses the nature of true and healthy growth: we must be rooted firmly and fully in Christ if we are to produce worthwhile fruit.  We can also remember that Christ said “You shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16) and we should read, in that light, what Christ says here about those who do not live in him: they are withered, rejected branches destined for the fire, and by implication the fruits of such people can be only halfhearted, dry, incomplete, and pointless imitations of what God seeks from us.

We might well notice as well that the branch does not live to enjoy the fruit; it is in a sense only the means of the vine’s gifting the world with grapes – but the branch, in doing that, is  fulfilled.  This is similar to us: we live to reveal God to the world and to change the world into God’s kingdom. 

This is who we are and how we grow and how God asks us to serve him.  This is where God is calling us to bless in him.  That will be different for each of us, a unique and endless joy at the end of our earthly lives formed and flavored by God’s personal call to each of us and by our personal choice of how we would respond to him.  We can only discover all of that by a daily prayer which starts in contemplation of God’s love for us and ends in grateful listening to hear his will for our growth that day. 

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