In this Gospel of the fifth Sunday of Easter we hear Jesus say, “Ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” What a marvelous promise, especially coming from God! When friends ask us what they can do for us, we don’t dare request something beyond their capability to give. But this is God asking—and God can give us anything we ask. So why does it seem that our prayers are not always answered? Jesus gives us a clue when he talks about being the true vine in the vineyard of his Father, the Vinedresser.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
One year I was in Italy right before the grape harvest, when the vines bore ripe, full bunches of grapes. I bit into a grape, and cool sweet juice squirted into my mouth. I asked someone why this vine bore such big, sweet grapes. He explained how the vinedresser pruned the vine, binding drooping tendrils and trimming off branches to focus its growth. Contemplating the grapevine, I realized that “asking for what we will” presupposes trusting the Vinedresser. If I had been there when the vinedresser was chopping off branches and tying up tendrils, I may have disagreed with his method. Yet, obviously he knew how to bring an abundant harvest to that vineyard.
The word of God trims us so that we bear fruit. Our fruit grows through life in Christ. Attached to Christ, the true Vine, we feel the sap of Scripture and sacramental life flow toward fruits being formed in our lives. The Spirit of Christ flows through us and in us. Saint Paul writes that we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (see Romans 8:26). Jesus says that we glorify God when we bear much fruit. We bear fruit when we trust the Vinedresser and stay attached to Jesus, the true Vine—who is pruned and bears abundant fruit. Through baptism we are incorporated into the true Vine. All that we do is transformed into worship—with Jesus we become Eucharistic grapes squeezed into wine to share with a thirsty world.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.