Becoming a True Branch

05-02-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

As I drive out east to Greenport on Sound Avenue, the fields are plowed and the vines in the vineyards are pruned and ready to grow branches. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 15:1-8), Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” I began to wonder how long a vine lasts, being pruned and bearing fruit year after year, and found this interesting information: “With proper care, grapevines can live for 50 to 100 years or more. Some of California's oldest vineyards contain grapevines dating back to the 1880s. In your garden, your grapevines may well outlive you.” In the opening line for today’s Gospel Jesus says: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” One of the commentaries I read on this Gospel says that the word true in this context means a lack of forgetfulness. “The True Vine remembers at all times the communion between ‘all there is’ and the ‘Source of All There Is.’ This means that the True Vine lives simultaneously in the flux and time and in the Eternal Now.”

Today, Sunday, we reflect on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Seeking clarity about today’s Gospel regarding the branch connected to Jesus the Vine, these five mysteries were very helpful. The Resurrection is the first Glorious Mystery. When we are connected to Jesus the Vine, we rise above and beyond sin, beyond fear and guilt to the love we are capable of sharing. As a branch connected to Jesus the Vine our eyes, minds, and hearts are opened to the good that is right in front of us and the good we can do. Not only do we see the good, the life of Jesus the Vine inspires, encourages, and enable us to do it with love.

The second Glorious Mystery is the Ascension. As the branches connected to Jesus the Vine, we not only rise above and beyond sin, confusion, and hesitation, we ascend to the clarity to the level of Jesus’ vision. His life flowing through us the branches gives us the ultimate perspective to view our lives and our world from His Vision. Without Him we are blind, with Him there is the fullness of light and love.

The third Glorious Mystery is Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts when we are baptized and again when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son who enables us to see what the True Vine sees, to hear what the True Vine hears, to act as the True Vine acts, to forgive as the True Vine forgives, to sacrifice as the True Vine sacrifices, to love as the True Vine loves.

The fourth Glorious Mystery is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. From the moment of her Immaculate Conception in the womb of her mother she was connected to the mind and will of God. Her whole life was living her words of consent at the Annunciation: “Let it be done to me as you say.” From His birth in the stable to His death on the cross Mary beheld the True Vine and always trusted that God’s way would prevail and is the source of fullness of life in this world and leads to the eternal life with the True Vine and all His branches in heaven.

The fifth Glorious Mystery is the Crowing of Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her position and power as Queen radiates undying faith in the True Vine and His love through her intercession for us. She opens our minds and hearts to the life we have flowing through us as branches on the True Vine. The True Vine has far more than a lack of forgetfulness. He knows us as we are and refuses to stop opening His loved-filled Heart to us. He raises us far above all we think we are capable of being and doing. He is the true source of love, joy, peace, and life.

I offer this prayer I found in my research:

Lord Jesus, let us realize that every action of ours no matter how small or how secular enables us to be in touch with You. Let our interest lie in created things – but only in absolute dependence upon Your presence in them. Let us pursue You and You alone through the reality of created things. Let this be our prayer – to become closer to You by becoming more human. Let us become a true branch on the vine that is You, a branch that bears much fruit. Let us accept You in our lives in the way it pleases You to come into them: as Truth, to be spoken; as Life, to be lived; as Light, to be shared; as Love, to be followed; as Joy, to be given; as Peace, to be spread about; as Sacrifice, to be offered among our relatives and friends, among our neighbors and all people. Amen.