I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
John 15: 1-8
Yesterday’s gospel reading really stood out to me. I’ve been busy the last 2 weeks preparing for my upcoming VINE year with CCO. The VINE acronym stands for “Volunteers in the New Evangelization”. If you aren’t familiar with this term, “New Evangelization” was popularized by Pope John Paul II with reference to efforts to reawaken the faith in traditionally Catholic parts of the world, such as Europe, who converted to Christianity many centuries earlier. However, many of these traditionally Christian parts of the world have undergone a process of secularization which has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and role of the Catholic Church. So there has been a movement to reach out to those who have fallen away from their faith, essentially re-evangelizing Catholics, or now commonly known as the “New Evangelization”. Starting in the fall, I will be working with CCO to bring the message to university students who have fallen away from their faith that having a relationship with God is very relevant and will lead to such a fulfilling life.
After reading the words that Jesus spoke in this passage, I love the idea that Jesus is the vine. I am simply a branch that comes from him. During this upcoming adventure on CCO staff, I really do feel as if Jesus will prune me so that I can bear even more fruit. Sure, I may do great things now, but imaging the even GREATER things I will do next year! This will not be because I have magically become better, but because slowly but surely I am learning how to be someone who is Christ-like. Through becoming a disciple, a follower, I am able to be a great person and do great things.
Heck, I don’t even know if that makes sense. I just feel like a few years ago, before I grew in my faith, I never did anything worth mentioning. I drank too much, partied too much, was lazy, was mean, was self-centered. Now that I’ve rooted myself with God, I am a better person. I treat other people better, I treat myself better, I volunteer, I am inspired to do extracurricular projects. I feel that the more I learn how to model Jesus, the more I can contribute in a positive way to the world around me. This faith thing doesn’t always make sense, believing in something I can’t even see. It is hard sometimes. But being a better person and bearing good fruit, that does make sense, and it’s always a reason to keep going in my faith journey.