Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB

5/31/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father except through Me

In listening attentively to the Word of God, we come to realize authentic communion with our Lord and are perfected slowly but surely in love of His Will through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who is able to safeguard us from despairing or presuming.  " If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" (Jn 15.7).

'I am the vine, you are the branches'

"I am the vine, you are the branches"

Highlights

By Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/31/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Vine, branches, discipleship, Monks, prayer, Fr Gregory Gresko, communion


RICHMOND, VA. (Catholic Online) - As we continue celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ during this joyous Easter season, the Gospel passage from Wednesday's liturgy called us to pause reflectively upon the image of Jesus as the true Vine and His people as the branches.  Jesus teaches us:  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit . Remain in me, as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me" (Jn 15.1-5). 

In this passage, we notice that it is God the Father Who is the Source growing Christ the Vine.  We encounter a dogmatic truth here that the Father and Son are in perfect communion as One, providing us the perfect example of God's own loving communion to which we long to belong in this life and in the life beyond.  Jesus always experiences life to the fullest as He remains perfectly in His Father, giving us hope for the same.  God the Father, through Christ the Way, is our Source both of eternal Truth and Life, as Jesus preaches: " I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  Nobody comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn 14.6). 

To live life to the fullest in our human existence means following Jesus as the True Way to the Father.  As we obey the Word of God in Jesus Christ -- step by step and loving action by loving action through the power of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus promises to send to His faithful to strengthen them -- we come to fulfill our destiny of reaching the eternal Life of God the Father, through Jesus Who does so Himself in perfect obedience to His heavenly Father.

The most difficult task indicated in this passage of Jesus as the True Vine may very well rest in a key verb mentioned throughout:  Remain.  It is not being a branch that is most challenging according to Jesus here; rather to remain proves for us most difficult such that living fruit might be borne from our faithful steadfastness in Him. Jesus clearly desires us to persevere in obedience to the Word of God, Who is Christ Himself (cf. Jn 1.1).  Communion is built out of the bricks and mortar of love - that steadfast dedication of lovers who stand daily committed in their love, one for the other.  The one who loves, in every big and especially in every little action of love, takes great care to demonstrate faithfulness, steadfast remaining with the person who is to receive his love. 

To love, indeed, means in reality to dwell steadfastly within the heart of the other, such that the lover always remains in the heart of his beloved, and the beloved finds her home always in the heart of the one who loves her.  This remaining, in a committed way, through the cycle of days, weeks, months, and years is what leads love to bear its greatest fruit, always borne out of lovingly attentive care for the beloved.  The experience of suffering often is part and parcel of such a labor of love, calling out to us to remain resolutely patient (from the Latin patiens, meaning "suffering") with and for the other (cf. 1 Cor 13.4) so that love might be shown in its most powerful strength. 

In allowing the Word of Jesus to remain alive in our hearts, we become rooted firmly as branches in Him.  Such faith requires out of us a persevering hope that acts in the present day in a manner that bears in mind our being judged in the future for our current actions.  True Christians believe fully that they will have to render an account for what has been done right and wrong in this life, before the throne of God in the afterlife (cf. Rev 20.12).  As Pope Benedict XVI eloquently explains in his encyclical written on the theological virtue of hope, Spe Salvi (41): 

"From the earliest times, the prospect of the Judgment has influenced Christians in their daily living as a criterion by which to order their present life, as a summons to their conscience, and at the same time as hope in God's justice. Faith in Christ has never looked merely backwards or merely upwards, but always also forwards to the hour of justice that the Lord repeatedly proclaimed. This looking ahead has given Christianity its importance for the present moment". 

Remaining in Jesus as the True Vine means behaving as branches who steadfastly persevere in faith, doing what is right and shunning what is evil at every turn according to a properly formed conscience (cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes 16).  One day, at a moment we may least expect, we will stand before God having been remainingly obedient, or un-remainingly disobedient, to Jesus as the Incarnate Word of God.

Few events in Scripture demonstrate the fruits of such an intimate remaining in communion than the solemn Feast of the Ascension, which quickly approaches us in the Church calendar.  Here, Jesus ascends in body and soul to His heavenly Father to dwell for eternity.  Through His Ascension, Jesus leads us as the True Way, as firstborn from the dead into eternal Life with His Father, if only we choose to remain in Him! 

According to the 20th-century German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, two fundamental attitudes of the human condition threaten our hope:  despair and presumption.  When our hope is under attack, our remaining in communion with the True Vine is put at risk.  Whenever we succumb to either of these threats to hope, we may hear the Word of Christ but fail truly to listen obediently to Him. 

Concerning despair, we may hear Jesus but refuse to hold faithfully to His promise, believing in our hearts that God is not powerful enough to surpass whatever challenge we are confronting, and we thus collapse into an attitude that holds ourselves doomed to fail.  In presumption, we claim to know God's specific will for us in a particular situation, but in fact we have not listened patiently enough for God's true voice so that we might understand authentically His command for action.  If we aren't careful, both errors can lead us and even those we love to suffer great harm, due to our failure to listen attentively with our hearts to the command of love that God speaks to us as we encounter Him. 

We remain in the Vine only through great patience in steadfast prayer, that communication between us and God that may include oratio (speaking to God) but even more importantly will include meditatio (meditating upon the Word of God) and contemplatio (listening to God).  It is in these ways that branches grow slowly and surely more firmly attached to the Vine.  Such growth may not be noticeable immediately to us at first glance.  However over time, just as plants grow slowly but surely, we can rest assured that we will bear great fruit if we simply remain obediently in our faith in Jesus the Word of God. 

In listening attentively to the Word of God, we come to realize authentic communion with our Lord and are perfected slowly but surely in love of His Will through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who is able to safeguard us from despairing or presuming.  When we as branches find ourselves in perfect communion with the vine, it is then that we indeed will be granted our every request in prayer as Jesus promises us: " If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" (Jn 15.7).

-----

Fr. Gregory Gresko is the Prior of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his S.T.B. from the Pontificial Athenaeum of Sant'Anselmo in Rome and his S.T.L. magna cum laude in Moral Theology (Marriage and Family Studies) in 2008 from the Pontifical Lateran University, John Paul II Institute (Vatican City).  His S.T.L. dissertation was entitled, "Educating to Love: Foundational Pedagogy in Light of Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility". Fr. Gregory is working on his doctoral dissertation for the same Vatican institute, on "The Consecration of the Family to the Heart of Jesus in Light of the Pastoral Ministry of Père Mateo Crawley-Boevey"

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

St. Teresa of Avila dubbed the Pope Francis of her time Watch

Image of Witty, warm and personable, St. Teresa of Avila nonetheless pushed the Carmelite order to reform, teaching the faithful not to be caught up with creature comforts

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St. Teresa of Avila of the 16th Century was in many ways the Pope Francis of her day. Witty, warm and personable, she nonetheless pushed the Carmelite order to reform. St. Teresa taught the faithful not to be caught up with creature comforts, to be true to ... continue reading


Unholy political positions in the Holy Land Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

As the minds and hearts of Christians throughout the world focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we naturally think of the Holy Land. Throughout much of history, in the land where the world's savior taught human beings to love one another as ... continue reading


5 Disney movies you never knew had hidden religious messages Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Disney movies are a well-known and well-loved part of most people's childhood. These stories talk and teach us things, like believing in ourselves and follow our dreams. Recently, the stories inspire courage and kindness, as well as forms of "true love." But viewers ... continue reading


5 excellent tips on how to read the Bible Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Bible is one of the most popular published books ever written in the history of life, but also one of the hardest to read and understand. Unlike most books published today, the Bible contains a lot of statements that are full of dates, metaphors and written to ... continue reading


200 Christian teachers denied day off for Good Friday Watch

Image of The 2014-2015 school years are the first time in recent memory that officials scheduled classes during both Good Friday and the Jewish holidays.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Rhode Island school district is being sued over the claim that 200 Christian teachers were denied requests to take Good Friday off from work. The teacher's union claims that the decision denies educators the two religious days that they are afforded in their ... continue reading


For the first time in over 150 years -- Blood of St. Januarius liquefies during Francis' visit to Naples Watch

Image of According to legend, Januarius was allegedly born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the first time in over 150 years, the blood of St. Januarius liquefied in the presence of a pope this past weekend. The phenomenon occurred when Pope Francis visited Naples this past weekend. It was the first time the blood liquefied in the presence of a ... continue reading


Church to Canonize Mom and Dad of St Therese, Show the Holiness of Christian Marriage Watch

Image of Pictured: Louis and Zelie Martin, the Mom and Dad of St Therese
For those called to live their Christian life in a consecrated Christian marriage, it is in the domestic church where progress in the spiritual life finds its raw material. The question we face every day becomes whether we live Christian marriage and family as a Christian vocation by responding to grace.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Louis and Zelie married in France in 1858. They had nine children. Five entered a consecrated or religious life in the Church. We have 218 letters which were written by Zelie.  They record the naturally supernatural pattern of a very real, human and devout ... continue reading


Drinking the Chalice of the Lord: Facing Suffering, Struggle and Failure Watch

Image of All of those who bear the name Christian are invited to follow the path of Jesus' struggle, to walk along with Him on the way of His rejection. We too are invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love. Golgotha beckons.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

James was the son of Zebedee and brother of John. From faithful stock, we see in this encounter that some forms of zeal may indeed be genetic. In fact, the zeal in both of these brothers caused the Lord to name them the Sons of Thunder.(Mk 3:14-17) However, human ... continue reading


7 endangering myths Christians believe about other Christians Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Disheartening isn't it? But it has been observed that Christians are divided among themselves. This is not what God wanted, as expressed by the writings in the Scriptures. However, there are some issues between the believers that makes them not united as they should ... continue reading


Josephs Way: Joseph, Husband of Mary, Model for Christian Men Watch

Image of The Dream of Joseph led to the response of a life given over to God

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In an age that has lost its way, because it has succumbed to the selfish pursuit of illusory pleasure, Joseph needs to be lifted up as a model for men who truly want to follow Jesus Christ. It is time for Christian men to follow his example, and become men again. ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 42:1-7
1 Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
1 [Of David] Yahweh is my light and my salvation, ... Read More

Gospel, John 12:1-11
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 30th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Regulatus
March 30: Also Peter Regalado, Franciscan reformer. Peter was born at ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter