Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
5th Sunday of Easter
May 6, 2012
Scriptural Reference: John 15:1-8
It is the beautiful parable of the Vine that I would like to reflect on today. Like all parables it can be reread many times, always finding new applications. One does not really explain a parable; rather one reflects on it to see how it can expand in any new ways and how we can see anew how we fit into the symbolism put before us.
We all know what a vine is. In the case of Jesus’ story, it is a grape vine, essential to the life of people in the Middle East – wine being the most common of beverages. Like wheat, grapes are part of daily life.
Jesus declares himself to be the vine. God his Father the one who takes care of the vine and the branches – an integral part of the vine – all of us. When I say an integral part of the vine I am referring to another great symbol of our relationship to Jesus – the Body, the Mystical Body. Jesus the Head, all of us members of that body, called to function according to our vocations, all together seeing to all the needs of the body, all the needs of the Church.
If we think of Jesus as the trunk of the vine and all of us as branches, we know full well that any branch that gets severed from the trunk will wilt and die. Any of us who have cared for plants soon notice a branch that has been accidentally separated from the plant. And so it is for all of us, our spiritual health, our spiritual life totally depends on our remaining attached to Christ.
Jesus even thinks of the importance of pruning, trimming a vine not to harm it but to make it more productive.
Are we able to accept that at times in life? Trials that seem so difficult to take were actually God’s way of taking away something or other to remind us of priorities, to actually help us to be more productive spiritually.
Some of us might think that being the beautiful leaves of the vine is wonderful, but a vine is not planted only to produce leaves. The end result for the vine to be worth taking care of is its fruit -the grapes. If we are just luscious green leaves and even satisfied with that, we might be people who are successful in worldly things – who look really good as to the values of this world goes, but need some trimming down for our own good, so as to foster fruit.
Some of us may recognize ourselves as branches that the storms of life actually broke away from the vine, but by the grace of God have been grafted back. Some of us may identify with the important part of the vine that is essential but does not even show - the roots. I think of the roots as the hidden branches that absorb the nutrients for the health of the vine. Could these nutrients not be compared to the Holy Spirit? – unseen and mysterious, yet vital. And the roots as people hidden in prayer and good deeds, who bring the gifts and fruits of the Spirit to the vine.
Reflect on your life in Christ, in the Church, in relationship to the parable of the vine. Where do you fit in? Is there a need to reconnect more seriously? A need for some trimming? A need to bear fruit instead of just pretty leaves?
May your reflection bear fruit! May Jesus’ life flow in and through you for the good of his Church.