Project Description




Easter 5B

Acts 9: 26-31 /1 John 3: 18-24 / John 15:1-8

 

Moment of silence for those places

that are still struggling with the

coronavirus pandemic.

 

Especially India

Fr. Lobo and his family

 

Pope Francis has asked us to pray a

daily Rosary during the

Month of May,

Month of Mary.

 

Here is a popular story

often told by spiritual directors. . .

 

The old and wise monk

said this about himself:

 

“I was a revolutionary when

I was young. . .

 

and my only prayer to God was,

‘Lord, give me the energy

to change the world.’”

 

“Then,

as I approached middle age,

I realized that half my life was gone. . .

 

and I had changed very little of the world. . .

 

so I changed my prayer to. . .

‘Lord,

give me the grace to

change all those who come

in contact with me. . .

 

give me the grace

just to change my family and friends. . .

and I shall be satisfied.’”

 

“But now that I am an old man. . .

and my days are numbered. . .

 

my one prayer is this. .

 

‘Lord, give me the grace

to change myself.’

 

If I had only prayed this pray

right from the start,

I would not have wasted my life. . .

 

and maybe. . .

just maybe. . .

with God’s grace. . .

 

I would have changed those around me. . .

 

and maybe even changed the world.”

 

Isn’t that a great story. . .

 

A lot of spiritual wisdom and truth.

 

I thought about this story when

I thought about today’s Gospel:

“The vine and the branches.”

 

Jesus says:

I am the vine,

you are the branches.

 

Whoever remains in me. . .

and I in him. . .

will bear much fruit. . .

 

because without me you can do nothing.”

 

This is all about the Good News!!!

 

God has such wonderful plans for each for us. . .

 

And it’s only through the grace of God

that these plans

can come to full fruition.

Whoever remains in Jesus. . .

 

Whoever remains a branch

connected to the vine. . .

 

will produce much fruit.

 

The Christian life is quite the

a process isn’t it!!!

 

It’s a process of becoming a new creation. . .

 

It’s a process of becoming other Christs. . .

 

It’s a process of becoming just like the vine

we’re attached to.

 

But for me,

this process. . .

 

this growth. . .

 

this transformation. . .

 

is not a perfect one.

 

Sometimes. . .

by God’s grace,

my vine grows beautiful leaves. . .

 

and produces the sweetest tasting fruit!!!

 

But sometimes. . .

my vine’s growth is stunted. . .

 

and my leaves aren’t the greenest. . .

 

and I produce some very sour tasting fruit.

 

When this happens. . .

I know what’s happening. . .

 

I’m trying to pull away from the vine. . .

 

I want to remove my branch from the vine. . .

 

so my vine can be transplanted into the ground. . .

 

and I can grow on my own.

 

Spiritual writer Fr. Henri Nouwen

said this about

his own spiritual journey. . .

 

he was 54 at the time. . .

 

Nouwen wrote:

 

I am still struggling with

the same problems

I had on the day of my ordination

twenty-nine years ago.

 

Notwithstanding my many prayers. . .

[and] my periods of retreat,

and the advice from many

friends,

counselors,

and confessors,

 

very little,

if anything,

has changed with regard to

my search for inner unity and peace.

 

I am still the restless,

nervous,

intense,

distracted,

and impulse-driven person

I was when

I set out on this spiritual journey.                                    (The Road to Daybreak, p. 127)

 

That honesty is great to hear

from someone whose entire adult life

was dedicated to learning about. . .

and teaching. . .

and living the spiritual life

in our Christian tradition.

It gives us all some hope. . .

when we realize others have many

of the same struggles in

the spiritual life as we do.

 

I think we can all

identify with what he says. . .

 

I sure can.

 

It’s only this type of humility. . .

this type of honesty. . .

that can keep us

graphed onto the true vine. . .

 

that keeps us from wanting to be

transplanted and be on our own. . .

we know that a complete separation

would be disastrous. . .

 

no telling where Nouwen would have been. . .

if he had completely separated from the vine.

 

The same holds true for us.

 

It’s this pride. . .

The wanting to pull away . . .

The wanting to separate from the vine

that stunts our growth

and sours our fruit.

 

But, if we stay connected. . .

 

if we stay graphed on. . .

even if it just with a few layers of plant tissue. . .

there will be some growth.

 

And many times

we ourselves don’t even realize

that there has been some progress. . .

 

only God sees what’s going on

in the internal cells. . .

 

in the internal structures of the plant. . .

all in preparation for our springtime!!!

 

The key to the spiritual life. . .

 

they key to our spiritual journey. . .

 

the key to growth and producing fruit is to abide. . .

is to remain. . .

 

“Remain in me. . .

as I remain in you.”

Jesus says.

 

And then God,

the vine grower can prune. . .

and water. . .

and weed. . .

and fertilize. . .

 

and. . .

and wire and tape our graph

closer to the vine when we try to pull away.

 

I want to finish with one more beautiful insight

about the Gospel.

 

What’s it’s like to abide. . .

What’s it like to remain. . .

graphed onto the true vine?

 

It’s living a life of grace. . .

 

It’s allowing the life of the vine

to flow into our branch. . .

 

it about receiving the grace

that flows from the true vine.

 

Grace. . .

 

One spiritual writer said this

about living a life of grace:

 

Grace is something you can

never get but can only be given.

 

There’s no way to earn it. . .

 

or deserve it. . .

 

or bring it about any

more than you can deserve

the taste of raspberries and cream. . .

 

or earn good looks. . .

 

or bring about your own birth.

 

A good sleep is grace. . .

 

and so are good dreams.

 

Most tears are grace.

 

The smell of rain is grace.

 

Somebody loving you is grace.

 

Loving somebody is grace.

Have you ever tried to love somebody?. . .

 

The grace of God means something like:

 

Here is your life.

 

You might never have been,

but you are,

 

because the party wouldn’t

have been complete without you.

 

Here is the world. . .

Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

 

Don’t be afraid.

 

I am with you.

Nothing can ever separate us.

 

It’s for you I created the universe.

I love you.                                                                            (Buechner, Wishful Thinking)

 

Connected to. . .

Grafted on to the vine. . .

 

and letting the grace flow.

 

Jesus says:

 

I am the true vine,

and my Father is the vine grower.

 

I am the vine,

you are the branches.

 

Whoever remains in me. . .

and I in him. . .

will bear much fruit. . .

because without me you can do nothing.

 

Holy Spirit 05/01-02/21