May 2, 2021  

We have just heard a small part of a four-chapter farewell discourse of Jesus to his disciples at the Last Supper. John is unique in this aspect because the other gospel writers wrote at most a single chapter for their farewell discourse. There are a number of teachings of Jesus attached to this farewell discourse including today’s passage. To help us understand our gospel passage today we must return to the words Jesus spoke just before this passage: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works” [John 14:10] Two phrases are particularly helpful here: “…the Father is in me” and “the Father…is doing his works”.  Jesus sees himself as the conduit through whom the Father does the Father’s works and underlying this relationship of Father and Son is the reality that they are in essence and substance one God. Jesus’ deeds, as he sees them, are his Father’s works, springing from the fact that ‘the Father is in me and I am in Him.’ Having said this about himself, Jesus turns to his disciples; like Jesus they, too, are called producers of the Father’s works, which are now summed up in the word ‘fruit’.

We see a very intimate relationship between Jesus and his Father, the Father is the vine grower, Jesus is the immediate source, the vine, by virtue of which branches inserted into the vine bear their fruit.  The metaphor of vine and branches take on deep meaning when one realizes that it is by the life of the vine that the branches exist and produce fruit.  There is one life here, as there is one life of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father. As baptized Christians we all share in this life of Jesus and his Father. Just as the disciples’ good works after Jesus’ ascension, owe their fruitfulness to the life they received from and share with Jesus, our bearing fruit depends on the quality of life we have in Jesus. Therefore, it is not enough to simply be a branch on the vine, we must bear fruit.

The quality of our lives in Christ is measured by the quality of fruit we produce. The Second Reading gives us a good indication of the type of fruit we should produce. Saint John says, “let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth.” Loving in truth and deed demands that we allow the Father’s love to be pass on to others. For we cannot really experience God’s love if others have not experienced our love. God’s love is a free gift, we are loved by God not because we deserve it, not because we are good, but because of his infinite goodness. And we become good because of this divine love alive in us and being passed to others. 

Sometimes our loving in deeds can be expressed in actual words. And we see a good example of this in our First Reading. After his conversion we see Paul speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus. Yet the disciples were afraid of him and did not believe that he was truly one of them. We know that Paul would go on to convert many souls to Christ and his Church. In fact, Saint Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul through his words and then his actions lived a very fruitful Christian life. 

Today as we continue to celebrate the Risen Lord in this Easter season, we must examine ourselves and ascertain our fruitfulness in the Lord’s vineyard. The joy of the Gospel should be evident in our relationships, in our words and in our deeds all under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.   


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Updated: May 2, 2021

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