Are We Making Our Lives Fruitful?
Sunday of Week 5 in Eastertide
All of us have but one life to live and we would all like to make a success of it. This is the message of today's Gospel reading. Jesus compared Himself and His disciples to a grapevine. Within a vine there are branches that bear fruit and those that do not. The barren branches are cut away, gathered into piles and burned. The fruitful branches are nurtured in order to make them more productive.
This is because any branch that bears no fruit is worse than useless; it is a hindrance to the productivity of the vine, not only failing to produce fruit of its own but also reducing the quality of the grapes produced by the other branches.
Is each of us leading a fruitful life? We are not placed in this world simply to fill up space and burn up energy! Every one of us has a job to do, and to leave that job undone is not fulfilling the purpose for which God created us. Some of the sharpest rebukes from Jesus were directed at the branches that grew no grapes, fig trees that produced no fruit, brothers who refused to be brotherly, the rich who never even noticed the poor, and religious leaders who showed no mercy.
When you and I think of a wasted life, it is often in terms of the harm that has been done. More often, however, He thought of a wasted life in terms of the good that might have been done, but was not. To Him one of the greatest tragedies was an unused life. The barren branches in the grapevine were not evil; they did not produce poison grapes but were simply useless, producing no grapes at all.
Jesus never measured the worth of a human life in the terms of how much it could produce. Many of the things that seem small and insignificant to us are of priceless value to Him - so don't be discouraged if, when compared with other people, your contribution seems small. In the eyes of God, it might be far greater than you know.
Do you remember that day when Jesus sat in the Temple, watching people place their gifts in the treasury? Many who were rich walked past and donated large sums of money. But a poor widow dropped two copper coins into the box – and her contribution did not go unnoticed. He said, 'This woman has contributed more than all of the others. They gave from their surplus wealth, but she gave from her want, all that she had.' Jesus praised her because He saw the generosity in her heart.
Jesus urges us all to lead fruitful lives and make use of the opportunities that come our way. A fruitful life is within reach of everyone. However meagre our means, whatever the limits of our abilities, each of us must try to make the best use of the talents we have been given, even if what we do is neither large nor spectacular. No human life ever needs to be a useless piece of dead wood!
It is God the Father Who is the vine-dresser pruning us to bear more fruit. Let the words of Jesus often ring in our ears. “Whoever remains in Me, with Me in him, bears fruit in plenty; but cut off from Me you can do nothing.”
Heavenly Father, as You prune each one of us to bear more fruit, help us to accept that You know best how to make our lives more useful.