I was really drawn to one sentence in this weekend’s Gospel: I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Over Holy Week, one gal confessed how she felt she did nothing for the Lord. I know this lady, so I was able to point out just how much she was doing, so she left with a much lighter heart. What happened was that she was focused on doing big things for God, completely forgetting all the other things she did to make life good for residents of St. Paul’s.
We humans are born being selfish and self-centered. We want what we want and we want it now, and pitch a tantrum if it’s not forthcoming. As we age and mature, we see that this kind of behavior alienates others. Since we want to be loved and appreciated, we’ll tend to do those things which bring the approval of others. But every so often that self-centeredness does make an appearance. It’s hard to eradicate that selfish streak, that “What’s in it for me” or “It’s not convenient for me” approach to life’s requests and demands. Of course, we’ll deny that we have that attitude, but believe me, it’s there and it’s obvious. I’ve got it, you have it, we all have it. It bears no fruit, no life for others. It doesn’t even bring life to me, because if I have that attitude, it usually means I’m grumpy, disillusioned, a complainer, a worrier, etc., etc.!
On the flip side, it is my firm belief that every act of goodness is proof that we are connected to the Vine–EVERY ACT!!! Be it a smile or a belly laugh, a kind word or a helping hand, an act of politeness or volunteering to do something or showing up on time–everything we do that lifts another person’s heart is the grace of God working within us. Listen again to the fruits of the Spirit, for this is exactly what Jesus was talking about: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness. Every time you do, or say, or think something that has one of these fruits behind it, it means you are securely attached to the Vine. Furthermore, these are the fruits that give life to other people.
As Jesus said: if we are faithful to the little things, we will enter into our Master’s joy! So true! On earth as well as in heaven!!!
Laugh heartily, pray faithfully, love deeply!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.