10 May 2009


5th Sunday of Easter
Jn 15:1-8

Do you remember when Jesus approached a fig tree, searching for its fruits, but found none? Mk 11:12-14 tells us that, disappointed, Jesus cursed the tree and it withered.

In Lk 13:6-9, Jesus narrated the story of a landowner who, also in search for a fruit from one of his trees, found none. The landowner then ordered his servant to cut the tree, but the servant pleaded with him to give the tree one more year to bear fruit and if still it produces none, then it may be cut off already.

Very clearly, Jesus expects His disciples to bear fruit. He wants His disciples to be “mabunga” (fruitful) not “mabongga” (showy). But more than on a disciple that bears fruit, Jesus delights on a very fruitful disciple. In the gospel today, He says that we glorify the Father in our bearing much fruit. Moreover, Jesus tells us that the Father prunes the branch that bears fruit so that it may become even more fruitful. And the person who lives in Him and He in that person, indeed, bears fruit abundantly.

What does it mean to bear fruit abundantly? To bear fruit abundantly means to produce good works for the kingdom of God. God is not contented with occasional good works. He wants us to be perfect as He is perfect. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor not only as we love our selves but even as He loves us. He expects us to use our gifts to the fullest always. When I was still in college, the Jesuit priests at the Ateneo would always admonish us: “Always strive for the magis!” For it was St. Ignatius of Loyola, their founder, who adopted the motto: “Ad majorem Dei gloriam!” (“For the greater glory of God”).

Relying on our own strength alone, we are bound to fail. Thus, Jesus reminds us: “Remain in Me.” Separated from Jesus, we can do nothing. We cannot even start desiring to do good deeds if we are apart from Jesus and if we do not have His grace. But, united to Christ, we cannot only bear fruit; rather, we bear can fruit abundantly.

The light bulb will not light unless it is connected to electricity or to a battery. The bulb may be beautiful and its light is really bright, but what use does it have if it is not connected to electricity or to a battery? We are like light bulbs and Jesus is the electricity or the battery. But even more beautiful because Jesus never goes brown-out neither does He go low batt.

But you and I do go busted. We breakdown. We go out-of-order. As the Father prunes us, in the hope that we may bear fruit abundantly, we hurt, we falter, we quit, we sulk, and we even get angry at God sometimes. Yet, we know that indeed the lush and fruitful tree is the tree that is pruned.

The German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said, “The hand of God is at times the hand of grace and at other times the hand of suffering, but it is always the hand of love.” He said it right, did he not? The hand of God moves two-way. The hand of God presses on what it touches with opposite weights. But its constant goal is love.

God prunes and cleans the branch that bears fruit so that it may bear fruit even more abundantly. God’s ways can be very painful, can they not be? But His ways always ends for our benefit, do they not? That is how the hand of God moves in our life: gentle but also tough; like a calm breeze but also like a raging storm. Sometimes His hand caresses us but sometimes it strikes us down. It cannot always be happy because sadness is also real. There is comfort because there is suffering. One cannot exist without the other, as we can recognize light because we know darkness, we can say when it is daytime because we have been through the night, we can judge what is beautiful because we understand what ugliness is all about. If one is gone, both go.

In all these opposite realities, however, the love of God persists. Our opposite experiences in the way the hand of God moves in our life are all expressions of God’s love for us. Does a father discipline his child simply because he has nothing good to do with his begotten? Does a lover hurt simply to make the beloved feel bad? Do we get angry simply because we want attention? No. The father disciplines, the lover hurt, and we do get angry still because of love. If love is not the reason for the discipline, for the hurt, for the anger, then perhaps we are not real parents, we are not really loving, and we are animals – not real human beings. It is also true that if we are not disciplined, perhaps we are not a true child; if our lover never hurts, maybe we are not truly loved; if we are not reprimanded, possibly we are not being cared for at all.

Suffering has a beautiful message. If it is the way the hand of God moves, we should be grateful because we it means that we are not far from God, for His hand still reaches us. His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, in his homily of Maundy Thursday’s Chrism Mass last year, said, “The person who lives in luxury and pleasure is pathetic – he or she is the person whom God has truly abandoned. God no longer pays attention to him or her. God has already abandoned him or her to luxury and pleasure.” And if it God does not pay attention to us anymore and abandons us to the luxuries and pleasures of life, we end up nowhere else but to the danger that befalls those from whom the hand of God departs.

“The hand of God is at times the hand of grace and at other times the hand of suffering, but it is always the hand of love.” And that hand alone can surely make us bear abundant fruit. We pray that our hands may be like that hand, too.


At 4:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are really some people who have forgotten God. For example a husband who betrays a wife for the sake of pleasure without conscience. Wasting money for the luxuries of a mistress but neglecting the basic needs of his spouse and children of marriage. At the end, the wife and children of marriage suffer. But this suffering does not stop because a wife who have strong faith in God and believes that "prayer goes up" and "blessings goes down" will make a wife stronger and would live a life peacefully with the blessings from God. Keep the faith. Believe in the power of prayers. Keep up the good work and blessings will multiply.

At 11:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is when we suffer that we are truly one with God.We would not know what is victory without defeat , what is happiness without sorrow , there will be no resurrection if there is no death.

Sometimes it may be so hard to understand why do we suffer but despair not.There is still hope and God never condemned us , He would always carry us on His shoulders and direct our path. He would always give us hope and light;He has no buts and no ifs, He has immense love , unconditional love for everyone-no exceptions.

That is why if God could do more for us.......why can't we do more for Him? Instead of asking why,ask God "what can I do for you Lord this day"?

At 10:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life has its ups and downs and so with the tree that bears no good fruit and the one that is fruitful.

Human existence could only be nourished when we are spiritually connected to Jesus. Irregardless of how intelligent a person is, how wealthy he maybe, no matter what doctorate degree he had graduated from,or the mayor of the town, if one has not build any relationship from "that Hand",the height will surely backslide.- rory

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