The sweetness of life tomorrow always depends on our contribution to the common good: the good of others


The sweetness of life tomorrow always depends on our contribution to the common good: the good of others

Fifth Sunday of Easter – April 28, 2024

For many people who are now disconnected from a close connection to the land (some children think milk is produced by the supermarket), it might be helpful to explain the parts of a grape-vine because they help understand the power of this analogy used by Jesus.

Grapevines comprise vegetative organs (root, trunk, cordon, shoots, leaves, and tendrils)…  All organs are interconnected through the vascular system comprising the xylem for water and nutrient transport, and the phloem for assimilate transport, meaning the products of photosynthesis (mainly sugar sucrose).

It’s helpful to study diagrams and imagine stages of human beings replacing parts of the vine. Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” Christ and the people of God are united and form the vine together (our society).

I see Christ as the roots, quiet humble and hidden.  Able to gather the spiritual nutrients to feed all of us by the Holy Spirit: without Christ we would be unable to produce a healthy trunk (grandparents), arms (family branches), cordons (parents), and shoots (children); all of which work together to produce nice fruit: ie. to be happy adults and children creating a beautiful world (leaves, tendrils and grapes), through our efforts and the ‘quality’ of our children.

I guess this Gospel is not addressed to the wine makers, so that means Jesus is challenging us about whether we need to do some personal pruning or communal pruning.  That’s not easy to take if we are the one requiring pruning or the one required to stand and publically speak out!

Jesus also said: “Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away”.  So, if we are not interested in helping society by forming families or providing support services for other families, then we will eventually cut ourselves off from Christ and be pruned off.

We see so much evidence of this as we look around the world, especially in materially wealthy countries.  Studies show that more and more people are becoming unhappy (mental health crisis).  And the result is drug & alcohol addiction, suicide, higher levels of violence, anger, etc.

Former American FBI agent and whistle-blower Kyle Seraphin, who exposed faults in the FBI, says our culture has lost focus: “We’ve walked away from the values that allowed us to defeat things like communism.  We used to think we were the good guy and we aspired to be the good guy. And in order to do that, we did so with Christian values.

A recent report released revealed that, across all age groups, people who are more conservative, religious and family orientated had greater levels of happiness: keen to promote what’s best for the family or community: it’s all about us; compared with people from the so called left-wing, who tend to over-promote individual choice: it’s all about me. CATHOLICVOTE – Why left-wing people tend to be less happy-happy/

Recently, Pope Francis (2024/Apr/10) preached on the virtue of fortitude, observing that it is the ability to live with courage and to confront the inner, and outer, turmoils of life.  “A Christian without courage, who does not turn his own strength to good, who does not bother anyone, is a useless Christian,

The Vicar of Christ continues to challenge us like Christ: to speak and act in difficult moments in opposition to evil around us.  Deep meaning and joy in life becomes more possible because we have the catholic foundation (universal) for imagining the future: we are part of something great, which also needs “me”!

I take my hat off to all the parents, patiently enduring the growing “pains” of their children, helping God cut off the negative bits and re-grafting them many times onto the root of Christ.

Then, again, we must thank the courageous groups and individuals who publically advocate for and defend family life, the dignity of the human person and promote volunteering.  The media seems biased towards individualism and harsh on those who push for individual responsibility in our communities; ie. don’t expect the Government to do everything.

I urge each of us to remember that God created you as a person provided with the innate ability to make our world more beautiful by our words and actions that give life to others.  The fruit we bear on the vine grows sweeter the more we love and support community and family life.

As St Paul puts before us today:  “My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth.”

By Gerard Conlan, OMI