(Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22:26-28,30-32; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)
“Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)
How comforting it is to know that we do not walk alone through this life! No matter how isolated or weak we may feel, the truth is that Jesus is with us and will never abandon us. With Jesus as “the vine,” we can be assured that we will receive everything we need to nourish and sustain us. With the Father as the “vine grower,” all the circumstances of our lives—both pleasant and difficult— become his instruments as he prunes us and molds us into his image.
As an example of the effect that abiding in Christ can have, consider the early church as St. Luke describes it in today’s first reading. Where did Saul receive the courage not only to forego his former persecution of the church but to become one of its foremost apostles? His personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed him radically, but there were still layers of pride, prejudice, and fear that God had to strip away so that he could become more and more effective. More than likely, this pruning process was difficult, but Saul embraced it because the treasure of intimacy with Christ was so precious to him.
Think also of the disciples in Jerusalem when Saul attempted to join them. How did they overcome their fear and mistrust of their onetime persecutor? Again, they let the Lord lead them, guide them, and prune them where necessary. Certainly this was not an easy thing to do, but they came to trust that God could bring life from death, and so they were able to take the risk.
God is deeply committed to us, just as he was to those first believers. If we try our best to stay connected with him during our days, he will prune us as well. It won’t always be enjoyable, but it will be fruitful! Our lives will never be the same; they will keep getting better and better and better.
“Heavenly Father, make my heart one with you and your Son, so that I may bear fruit that brings you glory and honor.” ~WAU