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Archive for June, 2019

Jesus said “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.

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Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

One of the basic spiritual principles we everyday Christians tend to misunderstand God is how we think He wants us to serve Him. In our human way of thinking we think that we ought to serve Him by exhibiting the utmost of our earthly zeal and talents under His Command so that we, through our efforts, can produce the Fruit He wants for His Kingdom.

Wrong!

We Must Act In Jesus’ Name – Not ours!
The Father’s desire is that all of His creative purpose for His Kingdom be manifested through His Beloved Son, Jesus His Anointed One! And that is why He in his Loving Kindness determined that those who believe in His Son are given a New Life in His Spirit, so that we, his creatures, can be formed into His image and be true channels of His Love and blessings to this world, in HIS Name! Not ours!

Understanding this, that Jesus alone in the source of God’s grace to form His Kingdom. By transforming each of us into the image of His Son, we become branches of the Vine, His Son, through whom the Fruit of His Kingdom will manifest. As branches we act as extensions of Jesus himself.

That is why It is the Father’s intent that we be formed into such a relational and spiritual unity with His Son so that He will dwell in us in such a way that all we do for His Kingdom flows from Him and For Him, and so that His and His Alone is the Glory and Power, Forever and Ever. Amen

We can see then why the Father’s driving purposes for us is not only that we be conformed to the image of His Son but, foremost, His main purpose is that He wants us to be His spiritual partners in manifesting His Kingdom through bearing forth fruit through Christ Jesus. That is why He created us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son (cf., Rom. 8:28-30). All of what we call “Spiritual Growth” in our lives needs to be centered in this principle.

Becoming Fruitful Branches
Now, it is clear why most of us shy away from this understanding. We know we that although we are all sinners saved by grace, nonetheless we haven’t been taught too well what it takes to reach this ideal spiritual union with Christ so that we can become fruitful branches.

His Disciples did not understand this either. And that is why Jesus told them that in order to proceed to being a branch to the Vine you must reach a point in the heart-to heart relationship with Him that He terms “abiding in Him” in the same way that “He abides in you”.

Can you imagine the disciples really understanding what this meant. In fact, most of us today don’t either. Using the model of the vine we can begin to understand that we must have more than an earthly relationship with Him we must have a “spirit-to-spirit” relationship with Jesus in order to become as branch to Him. Also Jesus tells them that in order to enter into such a relationship you must be spiritually reborn and spiritually cleansed.

Here is what He told them:
“You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:3-5)

Then, in order that it might be clear to them what the “mutual abiding” term meant He went further indicating that the intimate unity needed for the relationship must be based on “agape” Love (ie., a self denying, divinely inspired Love). A Love that was manifested through loving obedience to divine directives.

Here are His Words to them:
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:9-10)

So from this we understand the KEY virtue of “Loving Obedience” through which the Holy Spirit works in us to form our mutually abiding union with Christ , namely, if you obey His directives just as He obeyed the Father’s directives then you can consider yourself as “abiding” in Him.

Then He also gave them the ultimate directive that would affirm their “Abiding in Him” …
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)

Of course this transforming process that the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the image of the Son begins in this life and continues through eternity. But “entry” requires us to give ourselves to Him as an act of our free will – sacrificing ourselves totally to Him (cf.,Rom. 12:1-2) out of Love for what He has done for us! As our relationship and union with Jesus grows we also come to know Him spiritually more and more such that we become more and more like Him and our will is brought into harmony with His will in us and for us!

The following excerpt from a book by Brian O’Leary SJ indicates how this virtue of Mutual Knowing endows our formation into His image:

Growing In Christ is Knowing Each Other More
All relationships that have any depth involve mutuality. As we desire that Jesus reveal himself to us, so too we reveal ourselves to Jesus. We share with him our own lives, our struggles and successes, the darkness of our doubts and the brightness of our hopes. We allow him to get to know us, to have an interior knowledge of us at the same time as we receive an interior knowledge of him. Our human need to be known by the other – or the divine Other – lies very deeply within us. It complements our desire to know the other, or the divine Other. This mutuality brings a wholeness to the loving relationship that we long for with God in Christ. As Ignatius wrote towards the end of the Spiritual Exercises: Love consists in a mutual communication between the two persons. That is, the one who loves gives and communicates to the beloved what he or she has, or a part of what the person has or can have; and the beloved in return does the same to the lover… Each shares with the other.
Excerpted from a book By Brian O’Leary SJ: GOD EVER GREATER: Exploring Ignatian Spirituality (p.129. )

Then, Jesus tells His Disciples, and us, how we are to relate to Him in our transformed mutual relationship as His Friends. (c.f., Ephesians 1:4 and Romans 8:29)
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.” (John 15:14-17)

From Friends to Disciples
From this you can see, all believers are called to be Jesus’ friends and not only friends but disciples as well. As lay person we sometimes do not fully comprehend is what the call to discipleship entails. In our diminished view of ourselves, we think that one can only be a “disciple” if one enters into a religious vocation like a priest, brother or nun. We don’t understand that there is nothing keeping us from being “lay disciples” except our lack of knowledge of what the term “discipleship” means.

In fact it only takes prayer of sincere consecration to enter into discipleship even if you are married and have a job. St. Paul tells his congregation about how marriage itself can be enters as a form of discipleship. Here is what Paul told the Ephesians, “… Husbands Love your wives as Jesus Loved His Church and gave himself for Her” (Eph. 5:25). Thus if, as a husband, you give yourself to Christ and let Him rule over your married Life through His Love, you can truly enter into a form of discipleship that will truly bring forth fruit.

Now Jesus indicated to His disciples that before they entered into any commitment as disciples they needed to wait in Jerusalem for the “promise of the Father” (the empowerment of the Holy Spirit) before acting on their calling (Acts 1:4-5) . He also told them, “… not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:4-5)

So, also, if any desire to respond to our calling as “lay disciples” we need to first “wait” and meditate on the Word and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to affirm our calling before taking action. Since the Lord told us that without Him we can do Nothing, we must understand that without His Empowerment, through the Holy Spirit we dare not enter into any spiritual commitment.

However, since Pentecost is near, this would be an excellent time to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit so that we might ask for His Consecration of our commitment at this time! Praised be His Holy Name!

Consecration
My Dear Pilgrims if in reading this posting you feel moved to make a commitment, I refer you first to another citation from the Apostle Paul that you should meditate on in order to affirm your call. In this exhortation Paul emphasizes the seriousness of our commitment, to offer our very life to the Father in loving response to the Sacrifice of His Son for our salvation, that he may anoint us as messengers of His Love to act in His Will and for His Glory, In Jesus Name!

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:1-2)

In Conclusion
As we have put on the New Man in Christ, let us then continue in St. Paul’s advice …

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

(But for Now ..)
“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Col. 3:5-11)

(In your new self …)
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

“And let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:12-17)

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May the Holy Spirit guide you as you act on your faith in the Name of Jesus, so that all you do to is dedicated to bring forth the Kingdom for the Glory of the Father.
Praised be the Name of Jesus!

Your Fellow Pilgrim, in Christ… Bartimaeus
© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

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Related Links…
Prayer of Commitment
Husbands Love Your Wives
Letter by Bishop Regarding Lay Missionary Discipleship                                                              Cast Your Net on the Other Side

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