May 06, 2015
Wednesday, 5th Week of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 15:1–6
Gospel: Jn 15:1–8
Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinegrower. If any of my branches doesn’t bear fruit, he breaks it off; and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit.
“You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you; live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you if you don’t remain in me.
“I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away as they do with branches and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned.
“If you remain in me and my words in you, you may ask whatever you want and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit: it is then that you become my disciples.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
If it is true that a Christian is fruitful only when grafted to Christ, how come Europe is progressive despite spiritual diversions of its citizenry? In Montpellier, for example, we found out during our recent pilgrimage to European countries three years ago that 90% of the inhabitants didn’t believe in God. Even our tour guide who led us to different religious spots proudly introduced himself as an atheist. Aside from Montpellier, there are many more countries in Europe whose citizens openly embrace atheism. It appears as though these countries develop ‘without God’s help’. How is this possible?
The question isn’t difficult to answer if we bear in mind that pagans have only this world to live and so devote all their energies to make the most of this lifetime. Those who are grafted to Christ, however, have an afterlife to prepare for. That is why they prune themselves of illegitimate earthly desires instead of devoting all their energies to the pursuit of material prosperity. The purpose of pruning is not to make life miserable but to sharpen one’s sense of value.
The art of sculpture perfectly demonstrates what pruning does to the spirit. Leonardo Da Vinci describes sculpture as ‘the art of removing’. When he saw a stone he would see an angel longing to be freed. What chipping off does to a formless stone, pruning does to the soul. Just as in sculpture the artist chips off those parts of the stone not necessary in the final figure to be sculptured, so in spiritual life we bring out Christian perfection in us by chipping off useless pieces.
Don’t envy countries that prosper “without God’s help”. Ask for pruning instead so that you may learn to appreciate the things of the spirit. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.frdan.org.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, keep us close to you and give us the strength to persevere in the pruning so that we may bear fruits of love and willing service for one another. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
ST. OF THE DAY: St. Dominic Savio. Honored as the patron of teenagers, he was born in Italy on APRIL 2, 1842. He was only five years old when he learned to serve Mass. At seven, he received his first Holy Communion with the following rules written in his notebook: (1) I will go to confession and receive Holy Communion often. (2) I will keep holy the feast days. (3) I will have Jesus and Mary as my best friends. (4) I will rather die than commit sin. At twelve, he visited Don Bosco and made a decision to enter the Oratory school. There he prayed and studied with great seriousness. To help everyone save his soul, he started to Sodality of the Immaculate Conception. His health was poor, so he went home where he died in 1857 at the age of 15.