5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER: JOHN 15: 1-8
In today’s gospel parable, the vine and branches remind us that we are united with Jesus; we cannot do anything if we are separated from Jesus. A vine shares everything with its branches. Jesus shares His own body and blood with us. Jesus has become a part of our lives. Jesus never leaves us to perish, but always remains with us, expecting us to look at Jesus so that Jesus can help us with His grace while respecting our freedom. Once we turn to Jesus for help, whether we are afraid, troubled, sick, or lonely, Jesus will be there right in front of us.
If the branch stays attached to the vine, the branch can spread its beautiful leaves. One of the most beautiful things about each branch is its freedom. No one needs to tell a branch were to grow, where to put forth fruit. It does all these things naturally and freely but only if the branch remains united to the vine. It is a bond of love that keeps us united to Jesus, and in this bond of love; we glimpse the source of a most beautiful Christian quality, which is our freedom.
Let me share with you a small story about a Flying Kite. A beautiful and colorful kite was flying in the sunny blue sky. The children were so happy and excited and enjoyed watching the kite, flying up into the sky. Suddenly, the kite got an idea: in its own pride, it wanted to fly to still greater heights and have more freedom; so the kite approached a small bird and asked, “Can you break my string with your sharp bite, the string, which is controlled by a person?” The bird said, “Once I break your string, you will lose your balance; you are controlled by this string and a person.” But the kite did not listen to this advice and requested that the bird break the string. The bird broke the string of the kite and the kite lost its balance, control, and stability and, following a strong wind, the kite landed on a tall tree and was destroyed.
This small story gives us the message that: our lives are attached and close to God and God’s hand is holding the strings of our lives. We might wonder and ask; “Why do I want my life to be attached to God? Why do I want to practice my faith and go to church? Why do I want to live closer to my family and friends?” If I don’t have all these connections, I will be getting more freedom and I can fly my own way without anyone’s control? Let us learn that these elements are not controlling or destroying our freedom. These are the “strings” holding and supporting our lives. We need God, we need strong roots, we need strong hands, and we need the support of our family and friends.
God has made us grow into the people of God. God has given us great freedom: freedom to pray and worship in a variety of ways, freedom to share our gifts and talents with others, freedom to serve God and our neighbors in so many ways. Yet, we can use this freedom wisely only if we remain united to God, the vine.
The goal of discipleship is not just a simple relationship in itself. It is not just enough to be a Christian and fulfill one’s religious duties and Sunday obligations. A Christian should be one, who follows the commands of Jesus to love his neighbor. The real goal of discipleship is the fruit that such a relationship produces. Let us be the branches of the vine by bearing fruits of love in the garden of the Heavenly Father. No matter what challenges we face today, let us try to keep closer and connected to Christ with our own “strings” of our lives!