“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty.” (John 15: 5)

In the context of the last Supper, Jesus is preparing his disciples to live in the world without him being physically present. In today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8), the key word is “remain” and it is repeated 10 times. The image for “remaining” is that Jesus is the Vine and you and I are the branches kept alive by mutual indwelling in love. The sap of our daily life comes from the Vine, and it produces fruit in and through us.

St Eugene de Mazenod meditated on himself using the image of a tree:

I was a tree damaged by original sin. The head of the household could have had it cut down and thrown it in the fire. He preferred to transplant it into good soil for it to bear good fruit. Such was the effect of baptism.

…Transplanted into the blessed soil irrigated by the blood of Jesus Christ, enriched with his very substance, etc., what fruit did I produce? Great God! (1814)

We have been living and continue to live challenging days, necessitating the importance of an awareness of us being the branches and of an Indwelling that challenges us to produce fruit in an unusual context. Let us remember that Jesus said “remain” ten times in today’s Gospel – and he constantly keeps repeating it to us throughout the day.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Today’s Gospel paired with St. Eugene’s reflection and that of Frank is incredibly generative. I stopped to read the full Gospel reading – yes to count the number of times the word ‘remain’ is used but also to sit with all of it in the light of Eugene and Frank. And in the light of COVID19 and all that it entails – for it seems to be the agent that has cut away all of the dead and empty branches – all that does not bring and feed life.

    I used to struggle with this particular reading, getting caught up in the idea of being a branch that is dead and so cut away from the others and left to die. But what if I am like Eugene a small tree, a vine in the middle of life, like that portrayed in the cupola of the San Clemente church in Rome. The branches that were cut away from – not all, but those that were drawing the life out of me; and then moved me to a part of the garden that was bright with light, where the soil was rich in nutrients and there space enough for me to grow. What was perhaps first seen as a weed and ignored or pulled up and thrown away was brought back to life.

    And the fruit that I bear! The pandemic seems to have helped nature to cut away all that is not necessary, that which hides the light and that does not give true life. For a very long time now I have been known to say that I come to know myself in knowing others, see myself in seeing others.

    Eugene said “…come and I will show you who you are in the eyes of God”. And he has and does. Even as small vine I begin to flower and my fruit is there to be shared with others.

    Like Eugene we have been transplanted. Called. Sent. Today’s Gospel is alive – in each of us. We become the fruits that God has nourished us to be. And now we share ourselves with all of life.

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