Today’s Thoughts: There is a lot going on in our readings today. Certainly, first and for most, we encounter in our Gospel the image of the vine and branches. One of the wonderful images of John’s Gospel. An image plucked right out of everyday life during Jesus’ time and that of the early Church. Jesus becoming the vine out of which we can grows in a faith filled life.
In our second reading we are called “Children.” I can remember a time during my life as a Passionist student when one of my brother Passionist students seemed offended but John referring to us as children. He said, “I am not a child any more I am an adult and I want to be seen and treated as one!” I have to admit sometimes I feel that way too but I also know that if I open myself up like a child I have a better chance of encountering the vine grower and receiving life from the vine.
In this second reading we are given some advice. We are asked to not just in love not in word or speech but to also love in deeds and in truth. In other words, actions speak louder than words. Perhaps, that is why St. Francis says, “Preach always and when necessary use words.” It is often easy to talk about doing the right thing but doing it can be a challenge.
Because John see us as children open to learning he goes on to share how we can accomplish living out our faith – by loving one another and by keeping God’s commandments and by doing what pleases God.
This all sound rather simple, but there are many moments, people and experience that make it down right hard right? I can easily think of people, experience and moments in life that presented and still present challenges to me when I try to practicing the command to “love one another.” No matter what I do, or how hard I pray for patience in dealing with people or situations, things are difficult! However, I am asked to persevere and love.
Perhaps the challenge is to stop and think of how difficult I might be to deal with me, and how it may be difficult to love me. Not easy thoughts to think. It is a heck of a lot easier to spend time thinking of the faults and failings of others than my own, but perspective is gained when I consider my own faults.
Back to our Gospel, the story starts with a description of our Father, the vine grower. The vine grower very carefully works in the vineyard caring for the individual branches daily. Those branches that are not bearing fruit are removed; the fruit bearing branches are pruned so as to produce more fruit. The vine grower wants nothing more than to have a fruitful crop. Thus, a great deal of time is spent on caring for the branches so that fruitfulness can be achieved. God will do whatever is needed and we see that down through our faith story.
Our heavenly Father spends a great deal of time and care in watching over each of us. If we remain in Jesus and his words remain in us, we are told to ask for whatever is wanted and it will be done.
As I write this Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are full of words of sorrow at the death of Alfie Evans, the little toddler in the UK who died this morning. Even Pope Francis expressed his heart felt sorrow! So many prays for healing, and it may seem that those prayers were not answered. Everyone wanted a miracle. Although it may seem that prayers weren’t answered, actually they were — going to Heaven while difficult for the family and all who prayed perhaps was better for Alfie. At difficult times in our life we are asked not to despair, because prayers are answered. God, our vine grower does prune so that we might learn, so that good fruit is born, in the midst of our faith filled journey through life.
Rest in the joy and love of heaven Alfie! Have a great Sunday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...