He Lifts Us Up To Cleanse Us

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our church renovation is not about just having a prettier church and more efficient building but about the vision we have as a church to be a community of communities where we can have a personal friendship with Christ, and help many others to do the same.  We want to go deeper in giving over more of our lives to Christ and making decisions and relationships according to his will.  And we want to bring many others, especially young families, into that relationship with him.

We all have a desire to long for something greater in our lives, to do something that will remain even after we are gone.  We don’t want only to survive but to flourish.  And there is the temptation to worry that we do not matter, and the world would have been the same had we been here or not.

It is this desire that we have that Jesus speaks about in the gospel this week (John 15: 1-8).  He says to his disciples and to us that you need to be part of me, part of the true vine in order to bear fruit.  You need to have a true, personal relationship with me, to be grafted onto me for “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  Without this you are nothing.  Jesus Christ is making a very strong statement.

Jesus is using an analogy to describe the relationship between him and his followers.  He compares himself to a vine which everyone would have been familiar with.  He would take off branches that do not produce fruit and prune back ones that bear fruit so that they yield even more fruit.

Jesus continues his analogy and tells his disciples that the branch produces fruit because is receives life giving nutrients from the branch then as a healthy branch it produces fruit.  So they must stay connected or in Jesus Christ in order to produce fruit.  Jesus says if we remain connected to him and in relationship with him, we will produce fruit but cut off from him, we can do nothing.  It seems extreme but it is true.

Another commentator translated “every branch that does not bear fruit is lifted up and cleansed.”   Jesus picks us up and cleans us; he doesn’t lop us off, he doesn’t cut you and leave you out.   We see this when a branch is heavy with fruit and it needs support and is propped up by a stick.  This is what God does for us.  He lifts us up so that we produce fruit, more fruit and eventually very much fruit.

Jesus says stay connected with me, remain in me and in my words and this will be a driving force in your life.  The Word of God is what cleanses us.   So be receptive to what God is saying to you today at the Eucharist.  Take home one point to work on.  Deeds are love, not sweet words.  The Christian life is essentially about bearing fruit.  The fruits of a genuine Christian life are: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness, chastity, etc.  A sign of being a disciple is our willingness to serve others in our parish and elsewhere.