As we see in next Sunday's Gospel reading, all of us who belong to
Christ are fruit-bearing branches of one vine. Jesus is the vine, and
because we are all attached to him, we share the same calling: to bear
good fruit. And not just any fruit that seems good, but the same fruit
that Jesus produced.
However, most of us underestimate how important this is! Stop
underestimating how necessary it is for YOU to produce Christ's fruit
- and more of it - today. Today too many Christians are settling for
mediocrity. As long as we get some personal satisfaction from being
Christian, we feel all too easily satisfied. As long as we're helping
some people with our kindness or generosity or love, we think God is
satisfied with the good fruits we're producing.
Have you ever asked why there's so much evil in the world? Why doesn't
God raise his almighty hand against war, against corruption in
government, against the greed of high-salaried managers who lay off
their employees while giving themselves huge bonuses, against the
perpetrators of physical and emotional abuse, against legislation that
discriminates against Christian faith, against rising crime rates, or
against any evil that's corrupting our world?
Why doesn't God do something?
Actually, he does! However, he does it the same way he grows grapes.
The life-force of the vine (Jesus) travels through the vine to the
little twigs (you and me and all Christians) that hold the grapes. The
more open we are to receiving nourishment from Christ, the more fruit
Jesus produces through us. But the grapes are not supposed to stay
We're nourished by Christ in order to take his fruits abundantly out
into the world. We must grow strong and healthy, branch out, and use
everything we've received from Christ for the sake of others.
Evil is stopped to the extent that we Christians continue Christ's
earthly ministry. Victory over evil comes from Christ, that is,
through us from Christ. Holiness in the world comes from Christ's Holy
Spirit actively transforming it through our holiness.
Questions for Personal Reflection:Are you doing everything you can to
grow the best grapes on your branch of Christ's vine? How healthy is
your connection to Christ? What in your life needs to be pruned off
because it's not producing full, abundant fruit?
Ps 22:26-28, 30-32
1 John 3:18-24
Hope is the theme of the First Sunday of Advent. In the readings for Mass, Isaiah describes a future in which all is well because (1) God is recognized as the highest authority and (2) obeying him is the people's highest priority. This vision gave great hope to the oppressed Israelites. Today if we look at this as a description of heaven, it gives great hope to us, too. When we die, "terms" will be "imposed" upon us because we did not stay entirely on the paths of God (a good reason for purgatory), but we will be living in the light of the Lord after death and there will be no more wars to battle.