The robust, fruity, delicate, Catholic Christian Community

Reflection on Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 14)

By Pat Rampolla

The readings for this Sunday:
Acts 9:26-31
Psalm 22:26-32
1 John 3:18-24
John 15:1-8

The full text of the readings can be found here.

As I was reflecting on the image of the vine and the branches in today’s Gospel reading I started to focus on the grapes that are the fruit of the vines that have been well pruned. From the grapes my thoughts moved to wine which is the ultimate product of crushed and filtered grapes.

Have you ever been to a wine tasting party where the wine connoisseur describes in very colorful language the various wines that are being featured?

The wines are described as robust, fruity, delicate, fragrant, hearty, earthy, containing a bouquet of flowers and many more descriptive adjectives. The best wines often come from combining various kinds of grapes or from vines that contain grafts from several varieties of grapes. What an inclusive image?

For me, this whole process, the growing, the pruning, the grafting, the crushing, the blending, the tasting and even more, the savoring, is a wonderful image for our lives as followers of Jesus and members of the Catholic Christian Community.

We each have our own story of being baptized into a community, where our faith was more or less nurtured and supported. Then moving out into an environment that challenged and pruned our naïve and untested beliefs. We found ourselves digging much deeper to discover the core beliefs on which we could stand when life’s disappointments and betrayals threatened to “crush” us especially when they came from those closest to us and from those in authority whom we trusted. We discovered that this “Jesus” of whom we had heard, was now Jesus, our trusted friend, our beloved, the source of our life and our strength and the parable of the vine and the branches became “our story”. When we stayed connected to this inner source, we could “bear fruit”. Without this connection we could not longer be “life-giving” for others.

In our journeying we also discovered the “Truth” in other religions and grafted this wider world view onto our own rather “parochial” views which tended to limit God’s “indiscriminate graciousness”. This description of God’s love is often used by Sr. Mary Ellen Rufft, CDP in her writings to expand, not only our thinking, but our awareness of this always loving, always inclusive, always present God.

For me “bearing fruit” means both becoming more deeply rooted in the truth that Jesus is “The Way, the Truth and the Life”, and expanding my vision to experience the “indiscriminate graciousness” of God that I see present in all people of good will and in all of this marvelous creation. How else can we go forth and “bear fruit”?