Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Dryness Produces a Better You

I love good red wine. The quality of wine depends on how the grape vines are treated. Letting it grow wild, especially with lots of water supply is not the best for quality wines. A bit of dry weather and a lot of pruning go a long way in producing better quality wine. With all the summer rain we had this year, the produce of this year may not be the best. A three year old East Australian produce would be better, because it was a dry year then.  The Gospel says that there are lessons to be learned from grape vines and wine. Wine and vineyards are metaphors used in Old Testament as well.

Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel likened Israel to a vineyard planted and tendered by God himself. Psalm 80:8-15 also uses the metaphor of vine. In all these it is the Lord who planted and tended the good vine. But because of the neglect of the chosen people of Israel, they became like an abandoned vineyard, crying out to the Lord to come and tender it again. Jesus according to John’s Gospel (Jn 15:1-8) promises that the Father in heaven is now tending the vineyard. Jesus himself is the vine.

For us who live in a time after the death and resurrection of the man Jesus, it is the Church is that vine. Church as the Body of Christ is the physical presence of Jesus now. Therefore when the Gospel says, “abide in me”, it means abide in the Church to produce fruits. New disciples who share Easter joy are the fruits we are looking for. Cut off from the ‘vine’ – the Church – you the branches are the lapsed Christians who are unable to produce any fruits.

At a personal level, Christians are to be pruned. The current pandemic, personal loss of loved ones, broken marriage, job loss, health concerns, and such others unpleasant experiences could prune your spiritual life, making you all the more attached to the ‘vine’, Jesus. It is in your weakness and brokenness that you find it easier to trust in God. It may make you a more compassionate and generous person. That way you allow the life sap of Jesus to flow into the branches, other members of your community. Without making Jesus the centre of your life, the joy of the Gospel will not flourish in you. Let no dryness or pruning ail you from becoming a fruitful disciple of Christ.