My dad is a gardener and a really good one at that. He has a green thumb. I grew up with plants everywhere inside the house because my mom also has a green thumb. She still has a beautiful, healthy plant that I used as center pieces for my first baby shower. That was almost 10 years ago. So needless to say I come from parents that can not only keep plants alive, but they have also duplicated those plants. Me on the other hand, not so much. I got an orchid and it was dead not even a couple weeks later. I bought a succulent thinking those are low maintenance. Nope couldn’t keep that one alive either. So I decided I can’t be a plant person because I just kill them. We did a home remodel that took 15 months, and moved back into our house in October of 2019, yes right before the pandemic, Praise God! I wanted something to symbolize new life in the house and so I bought one plant to put in our prayer space. I bought it and said I am going to take care of it. I began to read what I need to do to keep it alive, paid attention to how much lighting was too much or too little. It was my mission to keep that plant alive. Here we are end of April 2021 and my plant is still alive. In fact, I bought 2 more that seem to be doing well. I still would not say that I have a green thumb, rather, I would say that I’m being intentional and I’m paying attention to what the plant needs to thrive and continue to live.
Jesus has a funny way of speaking to us. As I was reflecting on next Sunday’s gospel, I realized that my plants are such a good metaphor for our relationship with the Lord. I can think of all the times that I called it quits with myself or with another person because I couldn’t pin point their needs, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I can think of times that I said, “I’ve planted the seed, I pray that they eventually find the love of God”. But we can’t have that mindset because we are all beloved sons and daughter of the King. He loves us unconditionally. He wants us to love Him. He wants us to leave each other. He wants us to be in communion with Him and introduce Him to others. He wants us to bear new fruit and we can’t do that by just planting the seed, or my case just buying the plant. We have to take care of it, water it, repot if necessary, etc.
In John 15: 1-8 Jesus reminds us that he is the vine and that his disciples (us) are the branches. For us to thrive, bear fruit (help others in their discipleship journey) we need to remain connected to Him. This is what we are called to, to remain in Him so that we can love and serve one another. We are called to remain in Him so that we can help others encounter his mercy, grace and love. Between the reflection of the gospel and my plants, it got me thinking. What am I intentionally doing to stay connected to Jesus? Am I paying attention to what I need to live out my discipleship? Am I allowing the Eucharist to transform my heart and bring me closer to Jesus? Is my prayer life just habit or is it truly bringing me closer to the Lord. Just like I pay attention to what my plants need to be healthy, thriving and bearing fruit, I must also give that attention to my own life, and to the life of others. As we approach the end of the Easter season I would like to challenge you all to spend some time in prayer and reflection. How is your life of prayer and union with Jesus through the Eucharist leading you to bear fruit? How are you making your relationship with Jesus the center of all that you do? And how are you helping others do the same?