May 3, 2015 - 5th Sunday of Easter, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
The people of God are the vineyard of the Lord; and God, the planter, is expecting, is hoping for, is greatly desiring a good harvest of grapes.
How do I know this? Because Jesus says that God who is the vinegrower takes away every branch that does not bear fruit and prunes the ones that do, so that they will bear more fruit.
In doing this, we are shown that God greatly desires a good harvest.
Please pay attention that this clearing away and pruning is God's action. It is not our own. The plants and trees and vines in our yard cannot prune themselves. Can they?
God does the work so that the branches on the vine produce more fruit. This shows that God cares for the vine and desires that the branches produce fruit in abundance.
Jesus is the vine. And this reveals the intimacy between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the people of God who are led by God’s Holy Spirit.
I just returned from Rome with a group of parishioners. We were on a ten day ten pilgrimage to visit some of the holy sites in Italy and the Vatican.
We celebrated Holy Mass in all the four major basilicas of Rome, at the burial place of Saint Francis of Assisi and at the Duomo in Orvieto which houses the relic of one of the Eucharistic miracles.
The pilgrimage was a treasure for us. At times I felt like a sponge soaking up every bit of the journey that I could possibly take in, every moment, every grace, every experience,
Brothers and sisters, I think that we all must learn to be like sponges and soak up everything that God wants to give us, everything that God desires for us.
In the gospel this weekend Jesus uses a very similar image. Everything that gives us life comes from Jesus the vine.
We get everything from the vine. We take it all in and it gives us life and breath and nourishment. Everything.
But this only happens if we remain connected to the vine. If we are connected, we produce fruit. But if we are connected, we are also pruned so that we can produce more fruit.
Remember, God is the one who does the pruning and the pruning is very painful because God cuts away the dead parts. God cuts away the diseased parts. God cuts away the sinful parts. And, to be quite honest, the cutting away hurts.
So this is very important for us to remember: when we are hurting or troubled but remain connected to the vine, then we can rest assured that it is God, the divine grower, who is simply pruning away so that we can produce more fruit.
Just like the branch that is connected to the vine, taking all its nourishment from the vine, we must learn to be more like sponges, more like branches connected to the vine.
We must absorb everything that the vine, Jesus the vine, wants to give us: all our food, all our nourishment, all our life, all our breath. Everything we have and everything we are comes from the vine.
We are all still branches connected to Jesus the vine, all of us, no exceptions. How do I know this with the certainty of faith? Because we are here today, we are still branches on the vine, we are not cut off, we are not withering the fading.
We are all part of God’s vineyard, some merlot, some chardonnay, some sauvignon blanc, some riesling, some zinfandel, some malbec, some cabernet, all the different types of grapes. So many different types of grapes. So many different types of people.
Yes. And our differences are a blessing. We are all part of God’s vineyard and God is expecting a good harvest of grapes from all us so that he can produce the choicest of wines.
When God picks the grapes that come from your branch, what kind of wine will God be able to make?