The Word of God

Fresh Off The Vine

Reflection on Mass Reading for May 2, 2021

There is no such thing as a gardener without passion. Nor could there be one without creativity or deep insight about the earth and what comes out of it. We could even say for our purposes here that working with the soil and growing food and flowers that enrich our lives is an art that employs the hand, the head, and the heart altogether. During the Easter Season, we are witnesses through the Scriptures of the “first fruits” of the sowing and planting of the Gospel enriched by the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to produce this wonderful and life-giving fruit world’s garden, the Church. “The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”  God is like the Supreme Gardener who has placed all of creation in place and order and brings all the blossoms in an all-powerful and all-loving gentle manner. This very truth inspired the Psalmist to invite us to sing with him today and forever: I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.”

And while we are living in a whole world of gratitude and the overwhelming sense that Jesus is right here with us through thick and thin, our behavior then reflects such living: “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.”  Today’s Scriptures proclaim the deep and life-giving connection with the integrity of life because of the One who has loved us into existence. If we believe in Jesus and follow Him, our entire lives must strive to live as redeemed and ransomed people. This is how we exhibit closeness to our hearts with the divine mysteries of creation and redemption. Jesus, using the imagery of gardening and farming, reminds all of us of this intimate relationship in the Gospel today: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” If it is true and that you can always tell a tree by its fruit, then who will people see and experience in us today. Will they see Jesus? Who, then?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt


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