Saint for the day: Catherine of Siena – (March 25m 1347 – April 29, 1380)
Acts 9:26-31 – Psalm 22: 26-32 – 1 John 3:18-24 – John 15:1-8
Today our Gospel scripture continues with more of the “I Am” statements of Jesus. Last Sunday we had “I am the Good Shepherd.” Today we hear Jesus saying, “I am the Vine you are the branches.” We have to give Jesus the credit in that He seems to know that not all of us have first-hand experience with sheep and shepherds so He gives us yet one more easily recognizable image of the vine and the branches.
Anyone who has any kind of garden around their house knows that – left along and unattended – shrubs and hedges get “woody” as all their energy is consumed in growing more and more out and away from the roots. And the more it gets distance from the roots the less leaves or fruit are produced. That’s an easy enough image for us to dwell on. In order for us to be “fruitful” we must allow for some maintenance to take place and who among us likes to be told “you have to be cut back!”
But Jesus also tells us, “ and my Father is the vine grower.” Another connection for us that Jesus and the Father are one.
This cutting back has to be seen in a positive and not a negative way. We have to see that we must stay close to the “root” which is Jesus. And since Jesus and the Father are one we must not get too strung out.
I like to come back to those “Four Pillars” of Dominican life: Prayer. Study. Community. Ministry. Our “fruitfulness” does not come from what we do but from our firm foundation in prayer – with honest study and supported by a like-minded community. When Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life we can easily see that we find “the way” in our prayer; “the truth” in our study; and “the life” in our community which is focused on the Eucharist.
But we must also remember that Jesus also says, I Am the vine and my Father is the Vine Grower which means that we will have to be “cut back” some. “Ouch! That hurts! There it is: the Cross. We can’t avoid that. Amen!