Please share the Good Word with your friends!
”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Many years ago, I worked as a landscape contractor, working closely with local landscape architects to transform properties into beautiful sites. In a relatively brief time, the vision of the architect became a reality through the installation of stone work, pools, lighting, and plantings of every shape and color. The vision, following a plan, and a team effort created a magnificent outdoor living space which must be kept picturesque through regular pruning.
Like the plants in these spaces, co-laboring with God follows this same pattern. It is through my ministry in parishes, dioceses, and in New York prisons that I came to more fully understand the meaning of today’s Gospel. The passage highlights the importance of connectedness to Jesus, the openness to God’s grace, and the need for mercy to mold and form me. God offers us many ways to maintain that connectedness to Christ including the Eucharist, rosary, meditation, annual retreats, spiritual direction, reflection and the Examen. Without the tools to connect to God, the laborers in God’s field labor in vain.
This passage from John’s Gospel has been expressed artistically and musically throughout the world and its message is easily understood. Today the words that strike me most are “because apart from me you can do nothing.” The realization that whatever we do in life, from landscaping to ministry, it is God within us who creates and builds. All we have is gift and grace.
—Joe Spina is a former member of the Parish Mission Team of the Archdiocese of New York as well as working in prison ministry. He trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through the Center for Spirituality and Justice in Bronx, NY.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All that I have and possess, I have from you. All to you I now return. Dispose of me wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace and I will be rich and ask for nothing more.
—Suscipe prayer of St. Ignatius of LoyolaPlease share the Good Word with your friends!