Daily Reflection
April 27th, 2005

Howie Kalb, S.J.

Jesuit Community
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Acts 15:1-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
John 15:1-8

In today’s Good News, Jesus teaches us a parable concerning the relationship between the Father, himself and all of us. With a picturesque analogy he says his Father is the vine grower, that he is the vine and that we are the branches. In that simple relationship we have a sampling of many wonderful truths.

At the Seminary where I began training for the priesthood there were acres and acres of vineyards. This enabled and privileged us to not only understand what Jesus was talking about but to experience some of the truths by our hands-on labor in the process.

The Brothers running the vineyard were the vine growers. It was up to them to care for, cultivate and guarantee a bountiful harvest. And one essential facet of this process was pruning the vines each fall. The vine grower prunes last season’s growth stripping the branches bare until what remains appears to be just so many skeletons of dead sticks. This process always provided the following spring with new lush growth of clusters and foliage predicting an even more bountiful harvest. The end result was a clue as to why the Lord allows us to suffer losses, failures and heartaches. It’s all for the sake of the harvest.

What was so obvious was when branches were broken off accidentally, by the wind or some other way; they were dead and utterly worthless. Jesus’ point in the parable is that separated from him, we are equally as dead and worthless as the separated branches. Unless we are drawing life from the vine we have no life and can produce no fruit.

One of my memories was the aroma of the ripe grapes in the autumn of the year. The pungent aroma permeated everything everywhere. This always reminded me that when we bear fruit we give glory to God just as the ripe grapes saturated the area with their aroma. “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and are my disciples.”

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