First Reading: Acts 15:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122
Gospel: John 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (Jn 15:1-8)
When my wife and I first started dating, she introduced me to the world of apple picking. Now growing up in a larger city, I had never experienced apple picking (beside the crab apple trees in my neighborhood, and you would always leave those alone after your first bite). I have to admit, ever since that first time I was hooked. It was quite an experience being able to go to the orchard and just simply be able to pick the fruit off of the tree. I know that each time we go, we only go to the trees that have the best apples, the trees with the best fruit.
In today's gospel, Jesus relates himself to that of a vine, and the Father as the vine grower. He makes it clear that the branches are useless and unable to produce good fruit unless they are on the vine. Those who choose to remain in Him will bear good fruit, while those who do not will be thrown out. I imagine that at the orchards that we go to, if a tree is not producing good fruit that it is thrown out as well. And so it seems as though each of us has a choice: remain in Christ and bear good fruit, or try and go it alone and be "thrown out" in the end. Seems like a no brainer to me, but sadly many people choose the later.
For those who choose to remain in Christ, there is something that we should keep in mind. Jesus said, "He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit." I would imagine that if a tree or vine could feel pain, that the pruning process would be awfully painful, but it is a necessary step for the plant. So too it is necessary for us when we go through challenges and difficulties, even though they may be hard and not feel good, it is necessary so that we too can bear more fruit.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Help us to make this life fruitful, help us to say yes to you every moment of our day, and that we do not seek out will, but yours. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to let your light shine through us in this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.