Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 15:1-6; John 15:1-8)
A theologian of some repute once challenged Mother Teresa’s famous dictum that the Lord does not ask us to be successful but only to be faithful. The theologian reasoned that it is a waste of talent and time to go about oblivious to the effects of our actions. Rather, he would say, it is only prudent to make our efforts as productive as possible.
As often happens, both sides in this debate have a hand on the truth. Certainly Jesus calls us to accountability for what we do. Wasting resources and producing results which harm as much as they help are not the fruits that he looks for. But some fruit trees, like the tropical mangosteen, take over a dozen years to grow from seed. Faithfulness on the part of the planter is required if their fruit is ever to be harvested and enjoyed. Just so, sometimes our best efforts require years to produce the results we desire.
In today’s gospel Jesus prescribes faithfulness as the one indispensable quality to produce any worthwhile fruit. He calls himself the vine to which we must stay connected. Apart from him our well-intended actions either devolve into egotism or are summarily abandoned. Both results are like incipient fruit that shrivels when plucked off the vine. Staying connected to Jesus we produce a harvest which both benefits people and glorifies God.