“I am the vine and you are the branches, remain in me and I in you and you can bear much fruit.”
The images of the vine and vineyard are common in the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments. The vineyard is likened to God’s kingdom and God is the master of the vineyard. And the vineyard owner needs workers in the vineyard, referring to people who were invited to work in the vineyard. The vine is likened to God and the branches of the vine are those who live in the will and follow the precepts of God.
When the branch is separated from the main trunk, then the branch dies for it has no nourishment and water supply from the main tree. When the branch is forcibly taken out from the trunk nor cut purposely then it is the end in the life of the branch. When one is apart from God, then he/ she is separated from God. How can he/ she live? He/ she may exist but not live?
In our life, more often than not, we forget that when we are apart from the Life-giver, we will not have life and never will we live. When we are so engrossed with ourselves, become conceited and self- righteous, we will develop and nurture our ‘ego” or our “false self.” We begin to believe that we are the only ones who can do many and all things, ordinary and extraordinary things. The time comes when we think and do practically everything even if it is beyond our capacities and capabilities. It is not wrong to work and enjoy our achievements but when we do it at the expense of others, then this is not good and right.
The ‘false self” builds up one’s personality and defenses but destroys oneself in the end. The “false self” is proud and egoist, self- centered and self- gratifying. The “false self” believes that he/ she is so powerful and indispensible. Little do we know and realize, that one has become “a little god” in his/ her own turf and in others’ in one’s own ways. Then, we ignore God’s presence and role in our lives; worst, we forget that there is God.
I have known and met a few people who act and relate strangely when they are so successful in their business ventures, they are allured by their own successes and achievements, they are eaten up by their fame and applauses, but at the end they are empty inside and had destroyed themselves. God is already out in their system. They do not read the Scriptures, they do not celebrate community worship like the mass and other liturgical celebrations, they no longer receive the sacraments like the sacraments of reconciliation (confession), matrimony (for those who are just living together without legal marriage) and they are not bothered by it, they no longer believe and pray. If prayer is an intimate relationship with God, then they are already apart and far from Him. They do not anymore call on God, neither to pray nor trust on Him.
When we are cut from God, we will like slowly get dried and become lifeless, like a branch that is cut from the main trunk, we become dry, we wither and die.
We should not separate from God, we should not stay apart from Jesus. We have to listen to Jesus and to his teachings in the Gospel. We listen and follow God’s will when we take seriously what Jesus’ wants us to be.
We are the branches of God when we stay in Him. We are in God’s vineyard when we do His will. And God’s will for us is the Love Him and our neighbors as he loved us. We are in God when we are so “little” and humble enough to accept that we are not “gods.” We are mortals, we are not immortals. Even if there are so many discoveries in the fields of sciences (genetics, astronomy, mathematics, physics, biology, technology, etc.), human minds is always limited and finite. Scientists are humans, they are not “gods.” For only God is infinite, the holy one, the immortal and benevolent one, for only God live forever. There is only one God and there is no other.
When we stay in God, we remain in Him. And God will keep us in Him. God will allow us to grow in grace and in health, so that we can bear fruit. And we will bear fruit, beautiful and pleasing fruits. Loads of charming fruits–of faith, hope, compassion, mercy, generosity, integrity, wisdom, knowledge, patience, pastoral care, among others, but above all, LOVE. We bear fruits to be shared with others, fruits which are not for us or for only for us, especially those who are in need of fruits in order to live.
In our mediation and reflection, let us be guided by some questions:
Have I trusted the Lord all the time?
Have I always depend on God and allowed myself to be directed by what He wills for me? Have I lived always in God? And not away from Him?
Have I made myself so well and become independent and “God has been eased out in my system”?
Am I still a branch connected with the main trunk? Am I still connected with God? Have I become a channel of life for others, like a branch who gives life to others?
Am I bearing fruit in my Christian Life and joyful in sharing the fruits of God’s love with others?
Prayer: Lord of the vineyard, God of Harvest; we come to you, accept us into your vineyard. We want to remain in you, please remain in us. Abide with us in our daily journey in life, in good times and in bad times. May we never be separated from your love so that we will grow in love and be able to share the fruits of your love with others. Amen.