One of the major hardships resulting from the massive earthquake in Nepal was communication. The 7.8 earthquake created landslides that blocked mountain roads connecting villages with major centers, toppled telephone poles which interrupted normal patterns of communications, and shattered cell towers and electrical cables that made most mobile phones and computers useless. These damages left many key emergency response teams with no way of communicating with one another during a time when coordination of rescue efforts was most important.
The gospel reading today, the same as the Sunday gospel, is an illustration about the importance of communications and connections. The soil connects to the roots, the roots to the vine, the vine to the branches, and the branches to the fruit. In order to produce fruit, all levels need to be connected, communicating with each other. Without the soil providing water and nutrients to the roots of the vine, without the vine carrying moisture and nutrients back and forth between the roots and the branches, there would be no fruit. The roots, the vine, the branches must work together to reach the goal of providing fruit.
What is true in the gardening world is true in the spiritual world. There is a spiritual dynamic that must be in place for the fruit of Christian life to be manifested. Without this flow of life from God to Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit and to all Christians, there can be no spiritual fruit. “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” Galatians 5:22:23. This dynamic is expressed at the end of many of our prayers: “Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
God (the soil) has created all the resources we need to be faithful disciples (fruitful branches). Jesus Christ (the vine) has released that creative love of God by his death and resurrection; the Holy Spirit (sun, air, water) surrounds us with the power of God and the life of Jesus Christ. Let us stay connected to the true vine and the vine grower. When we are connected, God can do the work through us to produce the fruit. When earthquakes strike us, stay connected to the vine. Whether your relationship preference is prayer, Mass, scripture, devotion, faith community or nature, stay connected.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.