April 29, 2018: Fifth Sunday of Easter
Reading: John 15: 2 – 7
Jesus said, “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will done for you.”
“Repetition is the mother of success” the old adage assures us. Perhaps that is why Jesus so often repeated and repeated the points he was making.
Today’s gospel is a perfect example of making the same point in different ways. If we don’t get the point that Jesus is the true vine and we are the fruit of that vine, it certainly is not Jesus’ fault. However I must admit that I can tune out the repetitions.
Maybe I read the Gospel the way I read the newspaper – the headline then a few sentences. Got it, I say to myself. Then I walk away and forget the headline, the point of the story and I never did bother with the details. This time though, in praying this Gospel, I am going to pay attention to this detail, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will done for you.”
To be more precise, the detail of the detail that I’m going to pay attention to is “if … my words remain in you.” Paying attention to all of the words of Jesus and acting upon them can allow the life of Jesus to flow through me and to bear fruit. “If you remain in me and my words in you…” The important detail here is “if.”
It’s spring. Everywhere I look I see what happens when “fruit” stays connected to its source. Forsythia bushes bear bright yellow leaves. Hardy pansies thrive in spite of sudden snows. Magnolia blossoms shed their furry shells and pink peeks out teasing us with the magnificent flowers on their way. These are all signs of spring in Midwest United States. I wonder what the signs of staying connected to the vine of Jesus look like across the US. In Taiwan. In Mexico. In Syria. In Russia. In any other place on Earth.
Signs of connection to the Holy One must certainly bear fruit across world. I’m going to read the newspaper more carefully in the next few days, looking for people and actions bearing fruit because of the words of the Holy One remaining in them. Guess I’d better pay more attention to the detail of letting the words of Jesus remain in me.