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Daily Gospel Reading - May 17, 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8


1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

 

Meditation:

Why does Jesus speak of himself as the true vine? The image of the vine was a rich one for the Jews since the land of Israel was covered with numerous vineyards. It had religious connotations to it as well. Isaiah spoke of the house of Israel as "the vineyard of the Lord"(Isaiah 5:7). Jeremiah said that God had planted Israel "as his choice vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). While the vine became a symbol of Israel as a nation, it also was used in the Scriptures as a sign of degeneration - a deformed state of spiritual growth and moral decline. Isaiah's prophecy spoke of Israel as a vineyard which "yielded wild grapes" (see Isaiah 5:1-7). Jeremiah said that Israel had become a "degenerate and wild vine" (Jeremiah 2:21).

 

One must be firmly rooted in the "Tree of Life"
When Jesus calls himself the true vine he makes clear that no one can grow in spiritual fruitfulness and moral goodness unless they are rooted in God and in his life-giving word. Religious affiliation or association with spiritually minded people is not sufficient by itself - one must be firmly rooted in the "Tree of Life" (Revelation 22:1-2, Genesis 2:8-9) who is the eternal Father and his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus makes a claim which only God can make - he is the true source of life that sustains us and makes us fruitful in living the abundant life which God has for us. It is only through Jesus Christ that one can be fully grafted into the true "vineyard of the Lord".

 

Bearing the fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy
Jesus offers true life - the abundant life which comes from God and which results in great fruitfulness. How does the vine become fruitful? The vine dresser must carefully prune the vine before it can bear good fruit. Vines characteristically have two kinds of branches - those which bear fruit and those which don't. The non-bearing branches must be carefully pruned back in order for the vine to conserve its strength for bearing good fruit. Jesus used this image to describe the kind of life he produces in those who are united with him - the fruit of "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Jesus says there can be no fruit in our lives apart from him. The fruit he speaks of here is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

 

There is a simple truth here: We are either fruit-bearing or non-fruit-bearing. There is no in-between. But the bearing of healthy fruit requires drastic pruning. The Lord promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him and allow him to purify us. Do you trust in the Lord's healing and transforming power to give you the abundant life and fruit of his heavenly kingdom?

 

"Lord Jesus, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as my All."

 
Daily Gospel Reading - May 16, 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Gospel Reading: John 14:27-31

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.

 

Meditation:

Do you know the peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)? In his farewell discourse Jesus grants peace as his gift to his disciples. What kind of peace does he offer? The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything which makes for our highest good. The world's approach to peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Jesus offers the peace which conquers our fears and anxieties. Nothing can take us from the peace and joy of Jesus Christ. No sorrow or grief, no danger, no suffering can make it less.

 

The true nature of peace
How can we attain the peace which the Lord Jesus offers his followers? Through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, the Lord Jesus shows us how to yield our passions of anger, fear, and pride to him so we can receive his gift of peace. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and strengthens us with his gifts and supernatural virtues which enable us to live as wise and holy disciples of Christ.

 

Caesarius of Arles (470-542 AD), an early church bishop in Gaul who was noted for his godly wisdom and preaching of Scripture, linked peace with the character of Christ and the Christlike virtues which help us to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Caesarius describes some of the key character traits (virtues) which form us into true people of peace:

 

"Peace, indeed, is serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the fellowship of charity. It removes hatred, settles wars, restrains wrath, tramples on pride, loves the humble, pacifies the discordant and makes enemies agree. For it is pleasing to everyone. It does not seek what belongs to another or consider anything as its own. It teaches people to love because it does not know how to get angry, or to extol itself or become inflated with pride. It is meek and humble to everyone, possessing rest and tranquility within itself. When the peace of Christ is exercised by a Christian, it is brought to perfection by Christ. If anyone loves it, he will be an heir of God, while anyone who despises it rebels against Christ.

"When our Lord Jesus Christ was returning to the Father, he left his peace to his followers as their inherited good, teaching them and saying, 'My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.' Anyone who has received this peace should keep it, and one who has destroyed it should look for it, while anyone who has lost it should seek it. For if anyone is not found with it, he will be disinherited by the Father and deprived of his inheritance." (Sermon 174.1)

 

Destiny with the Father
Jesus speaks to his disciples about his destination - and their destiny as well. He tells them in plain words that he must return to his Father in heaven (John 14:28). If his disciples truly love him for who he is - the only begotten Son of the Father, then they will rejoice that Jesus will ascend to the throne of God and be reunited with his Father in heaven.



Jesus also speaks of his struggle - his passion, suffering and death which he undertook on the cross to redeem us from slavery to sin and death. Jesus called Satan the "ruler of this world" (John 14:30) who seeks to rob people of peace and friendship with God. Jesus defeated the evil one through his death and resurrection and won pardon and peace for all who believe in him.The victory of the cross brought glory to Jesus and to the Father and it is our way to glory with the Father in heaven as well. In the Cross of Christ we find true peace and reconciliation with God our Father. Do you live in the peace of Jesus Christ?

 

"Lord Jesus, may your peace be always with me. May no troubling thought, trial or affliction rob me of the peace which passes all understanding. You, alone, O Lord, are my Peace. May I always reside in that peace by believing in your word and by doing your will.”

 
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