Fifth Sunday of Easter - 3rd May 2013

I am the Vine, you are the Branches

Out walking in the Arrandene during the week I noticed many branches had been blown off the trees by the winter storms. They were scatted as dead debris left to rot where they had fallen. The live branches on the trees also attracted my attention as they shoot new buds that will, in time, bear fruit again. It is the usual cycle of growth and decay and growth again.

This is the simple image Jesus uses in to­day's gospel to remind us of His continued presence in our lives, I am the vine, you are the branches, and on our dependence on him. Apart from me you can do nothing. Two important aspects of the believer's relationship with Jesus emerge: intimacy and fruitfulness.

A Christian is as much at home with Christ as the branch is with the tree. The life of a disciple is rooted and grounded in Christ and always returns to Christ for meaning, sustenance and energy. Take a burning coal out of the fire and it loses its glow. Cut off a branch and it withers. It is impossible to live a vibrant Christian life without a steady, daily life of prayer which unites us with Christ.

We may be only at the budding stage, but if we stay linked the harvest is certain because it is he who is supplying the power, not ourselves.

The best things in us - generosity, mercy, justice, forgiveness, integrity - are our response to his grace. The worst things in us - greed, injustice, violence, spite, dishonesty - come from our rejection of him and what he stands for. They are things that must be pruned if we are to bear fruit. And we cannot do it without his help.

The invitation is to stay linked with Christ present in his church.

If we break off from Christ through sin, we will cease to bear the fruit of service that God intended us to produce. We die spiritually and are fit only for the fire like the dead wood.

There will be difficult times ahead and we will all be tested but when "the crunch" comes we can meet it without fear. For Jesus is with us. His strength becomes our strength. Very often it is in these crunch times that we bear much fruit.

To be a Christian is to have the life and energy of Jesus within us, destined to blossom in beauty and to bear fruit.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, C.M.