+JMJ+ I was watching a video (linked below) by Dr. Brant Pitre about the parable of the vine and branches in John 15, how we have to abide in the vine if we are to have any life in us, if we are to bear fruit, and if God is to work in us the way He wants to. Those who do not remain in the vine are cut off, and then wither and die since they have cut themselves off from the source of life, and they are cast into the fire and burned. It’s a familiar parable, I’ve heard it countless times. You probably have, too. But this time I noticed something different and I want to share with you.
A continuation of Christ’s discourse to his disciples.
1 I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
6 If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and become my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love.
10 If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and do abide in his love.John 15: 1-10, Douay-Rheims Bible, public domain.
But notice that they were once in the vine, the ones who are to be cut off, they were really branches of the vine, they had produced fruit, good fruit. They were disciples, they were part of the Church, branches on the vine. He says this does away with the notion that some Protestants have of “once saved, always saved” because very clearly Jesus is talking about those who really were once part of the vine but fell away.
Now I’ve heard this before but tonight I heard it, not as referring to what some Protestants think and teach, but what many Catholics think and teach, too. I’ve been hearing a lot of people say, “Oh, that person is not really Catholic and never was really Catholic because look at what that person is doing now.” That has always bothered me. I’ve replied many times, “So-and-so may be a “Bad Catholic” but the person is still a Catholic. One does not cease to be Catholic merely by sinning or doing things that a Catholic ought not do. If one did cease to be Catholic that way, then there would be no Catholics left in the world at all, not me and not you.
And the teaching of Christ makes it clear why. The one who does not abide in the word (the Word, the Scriptures and the Liturgy and prayer and meditation—and I mean Christian meditation and not some mixed up concoction of misunderstood and misrepresented Eastern religion and superficial New Age mumbo jumbo with the thinnest of Christian veneers on top)—and abide in the vine (the Church with the Sacraments, the liturgical life of the Church, with the sap, His grace, coursing through it), will have no life in him and will cease to bear fruit (see, perhaps that one was bearing fruit but is no longer) and he will be cut off and thrown out to be gathered up and burned. Not because he never was abiding but because he is no longer abiding.
So watch out. Be vigilant. Be watchful. Your enemy prowls around, roaring like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. No one is immune but the one who is totally consumed by Christ. Only the Water of Life will keep us from being destroyed by the fires of hell.
There is so much more to say about this parable and I will say more but not right now. This is a good one to meditate on, to soak in. I’ll come back to it probably time and time again.
Video: The Vine and the Branches, by Dr. Brant Pitre.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and most of all, ever work out your salvation as we wait now for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us at Pentecost, and become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- Video by Dr. Pitre: The Vine and the Branches.
- If you subscribe to Dr. Pitre’s weekly Mass Readings Explained, you can go to this page for the videos and transcript for the Sunday readings that include the Vine and Branches talk. Highly recommended series.
Images: Christ True vine, Russia, 19th century, icon, unknown artist, Wikimedia Commons, photo by Shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Christ the True Vine, icon, unknown artist, Athens, 16th century, Wikimedia Commons, public domain. (I edited the color on both images to remove the strong yellow or green tint. I didn’t notice until just now that I used the same image that Dr. Pitre did in his video but he or his videographer didn’t edit the color. Now I have to watch it again and pay attention to the images. And take more notes.)
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