Having worries and anxieties are almost normal for the faithful one, these despite trying hard to put up with a prayerful spirit and a heart full of faith. Although we are taught to fully trust the Lord at all times, we also fear that God will subject us to the test. That is why one of the most important part of the Our Father is the line “Do not bring us to the test.” We dread being tested, because we also know how difficult it is to thrive unscathed in this troubled world.
As I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation last week, the Priest Confessor was telling me, “…when one is pressured, one’s strength shines through.” Indeed, it is the Lord’s way of telling me, “Don’t worry, I have your back.”
Today’s Gospel is one of the most re-assuring of the Lord’s messages. To put it in context, this discourse was made just the night before His passion. Jesus knew that the disciples, and as well as we, are filled with worries and anxieties. He uses the imagery of the vineyard as this will enhance their and our understanding of Jesus’ identity and mission as set by God the Father. He encourages them and us to stay with Him and persevere till the end,
“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 every one 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.”
In these verses and in the surrounding chapters, the Lord comforts and encourages both the community of disciples and as well as the faithful today with the promise that they and we as well are not abandoned or left alone, but can be confident of the Lord’s continuing presence with us in the world. He is telling us that we can never obtain the power to create unless we remain attached to Him. We can only be effective for as long as we are connected to the Power from on High. It is clear that these words are intended not as a command or judgment, but as invitation and as a promise: apart from Jesus, “you can do nothing.”
This beautiful imagery of the vineyard portrays the intimacy of the Father, Jesus, and the faithful followers of Christ. It is a challenge for the community of believers to change their and our mindset of keeping God at a distance. It is not something that is abstract, rather, it is something that is real and authentic. Jesus wants us to invite Him into our lives, not as a silent witness to what we do, but as someone who influences our thoughts, words and actions. In other words, Jesus opinion should matter to us more than anyone else and who directs and leads our lives. His thoughts and actions should provide us the template of Christian living,
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (v. 7)
The Lord is telling us that reading, memorizing, meditating, or listening to the Scriptures being read and preached, isn’t enough; rather it means that we consider Jesus’ words as those coming from a living Person whom we love more than any other in the world.
Now, isn’t it a very re-assuring promise, coming from Someone infinitely powerful?
Let us pray therefore, that we love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth. (1 Jn. 3: 18)