Sunday 20th January 2019

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The True Vine

May 9, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By REY FLORES

“I am the true vine; and my Father is the vine-grower. Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:2-5).
I cannot recall, or am afraid to even think about, how many times I sat idle in Mass just going through the motions and sometimes even falling asleep during a homily.
I lament all the wasted time I could have been growing as a man, husband, and father, but instead I remained indifferent, apathetic, and even sometimes unhappy about having to go to Mass.
Lamentations and repentance remind us that we still have a conscience, and more important, that every man has a natural desire for God and all His glories. Even in the darker moments in my life when I chose to do my own will, and not His, that voice was always there reminding me that He was waiting for me to come to Him. I just chose to ignore it so many times in pursuit of selfish worldly pleasures with short and immediate gratification, but with long-term consequences that hurt me and those around me.
In a recent session with my spiritual director, a wonderful priest in my diocese, he had me read John, chapter 15.
This is where Jesus says, “I am the true vine.” While I was familiar with these words, I had never really considered myself part of that vine and vineyard. Whatever fruit I may have produced, it was obviously God doing it. My resistance, reluctance, pride, fear, sinfulness, all of it, has kept me from being a truly fruitful vine.
God will not force His will on me or any of us. We must come to Him in complete humility and trust. Without Him, we are nothing. From now on forward, I renounce all that has kept me from truly seeking the Lord. I share this with you not in shame, but in joy, and in the hope that my spiritual journey can inspire others to also desire to be as fruitful a vine as we can possibly be. It is never too late.
We’ve all heard or have been asked: “What is the meaning of life?” The meaning of life is the True Vine. The meaning of life is found the Gospels. The meaning of life is the Way of the Cross. The meaning of life is His crucifixion and His Resurrection. The meaning of life is all of these things.
I may have shared this before, but I’ll share it again. When we were children, we immediately took our mother’s or our father’s hand when they extended it to us, usually while walking somewhere.
We could be walking to school, church, or the zoo, but a parent has the power to stretch out a hand and say, “Come with me,” and the child unquestioningly takes mom’s or dad’s hand with full trust that he is going where he is supposed to be going, safe and in the care of a loving and protective parent. Sometimes not even a word is said, but the child sees that outstretched hand and simply takes it.
I want us all to take a brief moment from reading this, look up wherever you are, and see the hand of God our Father reaching out to us. Without question, I now take His hand fully trusting in the undeniable truth that He loves me, and that He wants me to follow Him to Heaven. “Look up to the skies and behold; regard the heavens high above you” (Job 35:5).
In recent readings at Mass, we have heard much about the shepherd. He truly is our shepherd and cares for every last one of us. We must be faithful, obedient, and humble. We must not just talk the talk, but we must walk the walk as Catholics, and be the Christian soldiers, the fishers of men, who bring God to the people, and the people to God.
I am going through an incredible time of discovery at this moment of my life. Discovering the awesome power, mercy, and love of God, and discovering how He is doing this for us all, we just have to ask Him to heal us, to strengthen us, and to make us like Him.
“This is my commandment. That you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13).
I ask our heavenly Father to give me the wisdom, guidance, humility, and obedience to finally bear all of the fruit that He has always meant me to bear. I pray that He bless us all with the burning desire to bear much fruit in His vineyard.
I hope to see you all in the vineyard of the Lord.

+ + +

(Contact Rey Flores at reyfloresusa@gmail.com.)

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