I am the Vine, You are the Branches

John 15:5   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.

How do you remain in Jesus? How do you deepen your discipleship? Thankfully, the church gives us a panoply of resources and opportunities to stay close to Christ. Let’s consider them.

Going to Mass. Of course. Make this a priority on the schedule. Don’t let anything get in the way of going to Mass. Not kids’ athletic events. Not vacation. Not the desire to sleep in, as if your pillow is worthy of worship. 

Reading the Bible. The church prescribes Bible readings for every day. Over a three year period, these readings essentially cover the entire Bible. There are many apps which provide those readings along with reflections on them. I use two primarily: The Word Among Us and Laudate. Make daily reading a habit.

Spending time in adoration. Many churches have an adoration chapel. People sign up for an hour where they sit with Jesus, pray, contemplate, and read. If you can’t do that, can you take 10 minutes out to visit an adoration chapel to spend time with Jesus?

Confession. I am always nervous to go. But I am always pleasantly surprised by how good I feel afterwards. Then I think how silly I’ve been. It’s not like I can hide anything from God.  

Last but not least, and maybe the most – Prayer.  Knowing I need to spend more time in prayer, one Lent I gave up doing crossword puzzles and spent that time, instead, in prayer. That very Lent, the Holy Spirit pinged me with a reflection on the Our Father. Here is an excerpt:

Prayer purifies our intentions and relates everything we do to God. Jesus gives us the ultimate prayer in Matthew 6:9-15, the Lord’s Prayer. This is the most complete prayer we could ever pray, bringing us into a closer, more intimate relationship with God, our Father. We pray it so often that it may seem rote. But let’s dig into some of the phrases to consider how the Our Father leads us to go deeper in our discipleship.

Our Father 

Our Father (6:9). The opening phrase states right off the bat who we are. We are God’s children. As children, we are heirs to all of God’s promises, the best of which is eternal life with Him if we believe, if we have faith in Him. We can be sure of His love. We can trust in His care for us.

Thy will be done (6:10). Not my will. God’s will. My faith in Him allows me to trust that His will is better, bigger, and perfect for me. I do well when obedient to Him, even when I think I’d rather do something different.

Give us this day our daily bread (6:11). God provides. God will provide. We can depend on Him. He is the source of every breath we take, of every minute we have, of every measure of talent that we use, of every dime of treasure that we earn. 

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors (6:12). Forgive and be forgiven. Forgive and be at peace.

I plan to spend more time in prayer. I hope you do, too. And I hope this becomes a habit beyond Lent. Let’s be more intentional when praying the Our Father. Let’s resolve to be more trusting of Him, more obedient, forgiving, and dependent. Then after praying the prayer, let’s sit in quiet, soaking in His love, and listening for Him to tell us how to be a better disciple – a better steward.

Do these things – prayer, confession, Bible reading, going to Mass – and deepen your relationship with Jesus. Do these things and remain in Him.  Remain in Him and bear much fruit.

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