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Fruit of Vine or Tree

(5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 9:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)

Jesus, drawing on a sight familiar to anyone in his day, describes himself as a vine and his disciples as branches in the Father’s vineyard. For us, he might have used a different metaphor, a fruit orchard, for example. Then he would have said, “I am the tree.”

Everything else would be the same: “A branch cannot bear fruit on its own... Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” Good branches are pruned and bad ones discarded.

The Father, who tends the vine, also tends the tree. He knows that certain shoots grow fast but will never bear fruit, and if allowed to grow they will simply drain resources from the rest. He also knows exactly what is needed to promote healthy growth, and to produce the best and most abundant fruit.

Jesus seems almost to be pleading with his disciples when he says, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” He cares about them. At La Salette, a Beautiful Lady sadly observed that some Christians were no longer heeding that appeal.

Using Mary’s own language about spoiled wheat and rotten potatoes, we might say she found the vine or tree to be in need of much pruning and care, full of blight, and covered with the useless shoots of spiritual apathy. She therefore comes with the remedy, the necessary medicine when she offers us the opportunity for conversion and reconciliation, so we, the branches, might return to bearing fruit once again.

There is another way in which La Salette is an example of what true conversion can do in producing good fruit. Look at the missionary efforts of the religious communities and lay movements which have developed around the Apparition. Through them, many persons and countries have received Mary’s “great news;” the mission has led to abundant fruits of reconciliation.

If we may favor, for a moment, the metaphor of the tree, we may think of windfall fruit, which the grower does not throw away. We might apply this to marginalized persons. They must be included in our mission; as St. John says in the second reading: “Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

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