Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
The vine and the branches
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. … 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. 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 … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. Jn 15,1-7
“Without me you can do nothing”, says the Lord today. What does this statement mean? How does fit with the fact that many people have created political and economic empires, or multinational corporations, without referring to Christ, but only pursuing personal interests, plans or ideals? The answer is easy. There are only two ways to plan life: pursuing the Lord’s plan, or pursuing our own personal plans, which can also be broad, but are only ours. Whether the Lord also uses the projects of men to carry out his plan of universal salvation, this is part of his divine ability to make the best use of what history offers, the same way grandmother Betta could cook a good meal with the leftovers in the refrigerator. We have given ourselves a simple rule to figure out whose a project is: if its primary purpose is the “common good”, it is a plan of the Lord’s; if, instead, the aim is only to the advantage of a single person, family, class or nation, it is a human project. You might then think that we can safely pursue our own personal projects, hoping that there can then be benefits for everyone, as Adam Smith, the father of economic liberalism, theorized. It would be a smart way of thinking, if it were not for the fact that the final purpose of each plan is not its accomplishment, but the happiness and joy in carrying it out. It happens, then, that, for a wonderful divine balance of things, happiness and joy are achieved only by carrying out the Lord’s plan. If this is the situation, and our own experience teaches us that it is really so, we must pray the Lord every day the Lord that he shows us his life plan upon us. If we do, he will cut the branches that do not bear fruit, and, as the farmer does, he will trim the good branches so that they can bear more fruit. His reward for this way of setting our life, as far as we know, is happiness and joy, further than the direct access to Providence: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you”. In the end, we will have pleasure in handing back to Him the accomplished plan.