LECTIO DIVINA: 5th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR
Invoking the Holy Spirit.
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God. (s. 128, 40) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them/
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. 2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. 3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. 4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
“Remain in me, and I in You”: they in him not in the same way as he in them, because the one and the other profit not him but them. In fact, the branches are in the vine not because they are useful to the vine, but that from the vine they receive their source of life; the vine is in the branches to supply them with vital nourishment, not the vine taking it from them. Therefore, the one and the other, having Christ who remains in them and remaining in Christ, profit the disciples not Christ, because when a branch is cut, another branch can grow from the living root; on the other hand, a branch that is cut off cannot live without the root.
That is why he adds and says: Just as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you if you do not remain in me. Great encomium of grace, my brothers: instruct the hearts of the humble, close the mouths of the arrogant! Behold, to whom they must answer, if they dare, who for ignoring the justice of God and desiring to construct their own, they did not submit to the justice of God. Behold to whom they must answer those who are satisfied with themselves, and suppose that they do not need God to perform good works. Perhaps, don’t they oppose this truth those men of corrupt mind, reprobate as regards faith, who answer and speak iniquity upon saying: “From God we have to be men but of ourselves we have to be just?” What do you say you, who deceive yourselves, of the free will, not defenders but throwers from the height of conceit, by the emptiness of arrogance to the depths of submersion? As is notorious, your formula is that man practices justice by his own virtue. This is the height of your conceit. But the Truth contradicts and says: The branch cannot by itself bear fruit unless it remains in the vine. Go now through the precipices and, having nowhere to fasten yourselves, your windy loquacity jostles you. These things are the emptiness of your vanity. But see what befalls you in consequence and if in you there is some brain, be horrified. In fact, he who esteems that by himself he bears fruit, is not in the Vine; whoever is not in the Vine, is not in Christ; whoever is not in Christ is not a Christian. This is the depth of you submersion
Once again, consider that the Truth adds and says: I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. In order that no one may suppose that by itself the branch can bear fruit, at least a little, after having said: “This bears much fruit”, he does not affirm: “Because without me you can do little” but “You can do nothing.” Without him, therefore, nothing can be done, neither few nor much can be done because , even if the branch may have produced a little and that it may produce more, the farmer cleans it, nevertheless, if it does not remain in the vine and live of the root, by itself it cannot bear fruit of any size. On the other hand, even if Christ were not the Vine if he were not man, nevertheless he would not share with the branches that grace if he were not also God. Because to live without this grace is in truth so impossible that in the power of free will precisely is death, he affirms: If someone does not remain in me, as the branch, it will be thrown out and it will dry up, and they will gather it and throw it into the fire and it will burn. Thus the woody parts of the vine are more despicable if they do not remain in the vine, as more glorious would they be if they remain; thus, on these matters the Lord also says through the prophet Ezekiel, once they were cut, they profit the farmer nothing, they are not destined for any artisan’s work. The branch is fit for only two things: the vine or the fire: if it is not in the vine, it is in the fire; In order therefore that if be not in the fire, let it be in the vine (Io. eu. tr. 85, 1-3).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God, and at the same time, can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
a. “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
- How do you remain in Christ to bear much fruit?
- What does it imply to accept that without Christ you can do nothing?
b. “Every branch that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (Jn. 15:2).
- How do you receive God’s “pruning” (when you get sick, or lose a loved one)?
- How do they help you grow? How do you live the challenge to “bear more fruit” after a painful moment of God’s pruning?
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
a. Contemplate God the Father, as the farmer who prunes your own life. Put yourself into the hands of God and make this moment of prayer a moment of surrender in his hands and full trust. You can repeat in your interior a feeling of peace: “Thy will be done.”
b. Contemplate how your life is intimately united to the life of Christ, as the life of a baby to its mother in the mother’s womb. Experience trust, love and at the same time touch with humility your own limitation, but simultaneously the greatness of God; and you can repeat in your interior: “Without you I can do nothing.”
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God especially in knowing that without Christ we can do nothing, and about the moments of “pruning” by God. The following points can help you share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text.
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- Hoe can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What was my dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
Final prayer of St. Augustine.
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that you deign to hear our petitions according to your goodwill, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions, that you increase our faith, govern our mind and give us spiritual thoughts, and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.