Sunday, May 6, 2012

You Are the Branches

Photo credit: marfis75 via photo pin cc

Today's gospel (Jn. 15:1-8) is pretty clear-- stay connected to Christ.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. (Jn. 15:5) 

Simple, right?

Simple, until we humans get involved. We have a way of confusing the meaning of Jesus' words. Call it whatever you'd like: adjusting, tweaking, mitigating, simplifying... whatever your word for it, our goal seems always to be the same. We try to make the requirements just a little bit easier to meet.

We do this for so many reasons: 
  • Jesus' commands are difficult to follow; 
  • We don't want to feel bad about not being able to meet them; 
  • We're too tired to make the effort; 
  • We're too busy with other things to be able to put in the time necessary;
  • We're unwilling to make the sacrifice it will take to follow Jesus. 
So we water down the requirements. That way, we can say we are good Catholics, friends of Jesus, and connected to "the vine," and we haven't had to do much (if any) of the uncomfortable, unpleasant stuff necessary to be a true follower of Jesus.

Sometimes we're not even aware that we've watered down Jesus' words. Verse 5 of today's gospel is the perfect example. We hear this gospel every year, and we think: "Hey, I'm doing good . . . I go to Mass once in a while.  I try to be a good person. I don't steal or kill." But is that all that Jesus means when He says "remain in me"?

Looking at a different translation of the bible helps us get an even clearer glimpse of what Jesus means: He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is who bears much fruit.(Jn. 15:5, Revised Standard Version- RSV). The dictionary definition of "abides" is "to have one's abode; dwell; reside" (

Can we honestly say we are "dwelling" or "living" in Christ when we aren't following one of His most basic commands, such as the Third Commandment: "Remember to keep holy the sabbath day." (Ex. 20:8), which is understood to mean that we offer Christ our public worship at least once a week, on Sunday?

Can we honestly say Christ dwells within us if the last time we confessed our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation was six months ago? A year ago? Ten years ago?

Can we honestly say we live in Christ if the television or Internet gets more of our time than our bible?

Friends-- I believe we can do better for Him who gave all for us! If we truly began "abiding" in Christ without watering down what that means, imagine the powerful example we'd be setting for our children! Start small and build. 
If we are to grow faith-filled kids, can we risk any less?