5th Sunday in ordinary time, year B

Remain in me and you will bear much fruit

There are certain attitudes that one must cultivate if they want to attain certain goals in life. Athletes go through rigorous training each and everyday to reach their goals. Students spend sleepless night to prepare for their examinations. People generally make a lot of sacrifices each and every day to make ends meet. We let go the things we deem less important and stick to those that we see as more important and relevant to our goals.

Today’s gospel presents to us another theme of the seven revelations of Christ in the gospel of John. He

is the true vine, and we are the branches, and the father is the vinedresser. These gospel shows us what we must do if we want to attain the goal of bearing much fruit. The key phrase expresses a kind of relationship that is conditional but also dependent. To bear fruit, the branch must be attached to the vine because that is where it draws life, that is where it draws the nutrients. If it is left alone or cut off from the vine, it dies, it dries up. The father is the owner of the vine yard. What he desires of the vine yard is that it may bear fruit. And thus, all that he does is aimed at having the vine bear much fruit. That is why he gives attention to it and provides the necessary conditions that it needs in order to bring out the abundance of fruits that is required.

Cutting away and pruning at opportunities to bear fruit.

The gospel speaks about these conditions in two almost similar yet distinct verbs, cutting away and pruning. The branches that bear no fruit are cut away because they are useless, they waste resources, they don’t give the yield. At times there are thing we do in life that only destroy us and don’t make us yield fruit, or achieve what we desire. They are often things contrary to the expectations of the kingdom of God for us. They are those attitudes that are toxic to our lives. That is what the vinedresser cuts away. Are you aware of some of such attitudes in your life? They are the ones we need to let go. It could be laziness, anger, jealousy, hatred or even lack of love for others. These behaviors detach us from the vine and impede us from bearing fruit.

Instead, the branches that bear fruit are pruned. Pruning is an action that is meant to boost the yields. It makes the branches to blossom again. To one who doesn’t know well the science of farming, it may sound like wastage. However, pruning gives the plants the opportunity to revive and to be able to blossom much more. We gain this revival by letting God’s and work in us so that his light may illumine us and help us to see the dark sports that need his healing.

Jesus Christ repeats the phrase “bear fruit” at least seven time in this gospel. It is what is essential, it is the desired end. It is also an expression of totality, completeness. The father takes care. He cuts and purifies. Positive. He eliminates those behaviors in us that don’t bear fruit. It may be painful and yet it leads to life. Thought the word. Believers are pure coz they have believed but continues to prune

Make your home in me, forget about your past, their past

When Jesus calls the first disciples according to the gospel of john, they asked him where do you stay Lord, and he responded them come and see. Christ asked the disciples literally to come and stay with him. It is more or less the same metaphor expressed in the relationship between the vine and the branches. It is about being connected and attached. To the source of life. It is this reaming with the Lord from which the disciples draw strength. Because without him we are nothing.

At times it may be our past that blocks us from being with Jesus the vine. We have people who are imprisoned by their story of the past. They think God cannot change their reality. In the first reading, the Cristian community was hesitant to welcome Paul because they still thought of whom he was in the past, Saul. They saw the persecutor and were still afraid of him. It may be someone external like Paul in this case but it could also be one’s own self. May be there is that part of you that you don’t easily let go. You have not forgiven yourself about it and so it is still condemning you. And because of this you cannot bear fruit. The vinedresser seeks to cut off such parts and bring us to the abundance of productivity. Or it could be as in the second reading. Perhaps our love is not genuine or practical as it is supposed to be, maybe it is just tainted, sugar coated. It could also be one of the attitudes that we need to cut off if it is not leading us to bear fruits. There are obstacles that make it hard for us to remain in the Lord even when deep down we desire it. Are you aware of yours?

“Apart from me you can do nothing”. There is nothing that we as the branches can attribute to ourselves. All is generated by the father. All that we can do or accomplish is because of the father’s love. We can only glorify the father by bearing fruit.

May we always remain in the Lord and let him prune us and cut away those attitudes in us that lead us to failure. Amen

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Our Lady of Africa Church, Mbuya Hill | Kampala | P.O. Box 6562 | Uganda

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