Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
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.
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.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
How rich this Gospel is! We must be so intimately connected with Jesus Christ that we literally are a growth, an outshoot of Him. There is no way we can bear fruit alone. I have tried. I have failed. Every time in my life when I rely too much on my own abilities or emotions, I can feel the distance it puts between me and my Lord (when I come to my senses, of course).
As Americans, it can be very easy to fall into the temptation of relying completely on ourselves, our own abilities, our own efforts, to pull ourselves up from our bootstraps and accomplish great things, but here the Lord reminds us that if we try to achieve anything without Him, we will be cast out, wither, and be burned. I have felt this way. The majority of our American culture would probably feel this way, too, if they would allow themselves to feel it.
Relying on another is considered weak. We are told to be independent, self-sufficient, and in moderation, this is wise advice. Being dependent on another human can crush us. No one should become a doormat. But we often forget that relying on Christ is essential to our well-being, our happiness, and our eternal destiny.
Especially today, when relying even on God is considered weak, I clearly recognize the pruning that takes place in my soul when I depend completely on Him. Everything that is "me" is cut away to reveal Christ. For we were created in His image and likeness, and underneath all the stains of sin and the tendencies of selfishness, He resides. In reality, relying on another does make us weak. It makes us weak and humble, stripping us of our comfort and insisting we boldly live as bearers of the Kingdom of God, so that we have no choice but to trust in the Lord and cling to Him.
If we remain intimately connected to God, He will bless us! That is what we all want, isn't it? Our "if only" syndrome of always wanting more or wanting change is a result of our desire to achieve great things, to be happy. How can we ignore the Lord's simple, clear statement - "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you!" There is the key to the elusive achievement and happiness of this world.
We all want to bear fruit. We desire to accomplish great things in our lifetime. This can only be done when we are so closely knit into the very being of our God that nothing of our own desires is left. Then, His will becomes our will, and the things we ask for will be united to the things He desires for us.
Lord, help me to shed my self-interest. Let me see through your eyes the way you created me to be, pure, unblemished, remaining always in you. Show me how to glorify you in all that I do and to take no credit for myself. Allow my life to bear great fruit by the daily conversion of my heart to become more and more closely united to your Sacred Heart, so that your will may be mine.