Why is there so much evil in the world? Why doesn’t God raise His almighty hand against war, against abuse, against poverty, against criminals, or against any evil corrupting the world and our lives? It’s a familiar question. The answer is, HE DOES! But He wants to overcome evil through the vine. Jesus and the Bride — the Church — are united. We are commissioned to continue the work He began. But if the branches are not bearing good fruit, or ENOUGH good fruit, evil has room to keep on going and growing.
How healthy is your branch of the Church? I’m not talking about your parish or denomination. As we see in John 15:1-8, all of us who belong to Christ are part of the same huge vineyard. Jesus is the vine, and because we are all attached to Him, we share the same calling: to bear good fruit.
God’s effective strategy against evil is to conquer it through the Body. Christ’s body died on the cross for our sins and then came back to life, thus overcoming the power of evil. All who join themselves to His Body enter into this victory over evil. We who are His Body, the Church, are to take advantage of this great opportunity! Connected to Christ like grape branches are connected to the vine, we can defeat the power-broken evil around us.
Not alone, though. We fail when we try to do it alone or with too few others. Look at any problem going on in your parish. How would things change if all the staff, all those involved in ministry, and all the truly Christian pew-sitters came together to resolve this problem as one body, one vineyard consisting of one huge grapevine, each branch aware of their connection to Christ the vine and of the importance of bearing good fruit?
With genuinely spiritual, faith-developing adult formation programs, educating the parish about what it means to be branches connected to the same vine, this could happen!
But what can YOU do about this NOW? There’s no value in complaining about problems, about what is not being done that should be. We each have the personal responsibility to grow the best clusters of grapes on our branches that we can accomplish. We must each examine how healthy our connection to Christ is and pay attention to how good our fruits are and do whatever is necessary to prune away whatever is not helping the rest of the Church.
The more of the not-so-good stuff that we prune away (which requires, of course, relying on God’s help to do it) the healthier our branches get. Our grapes grow bigger and the good fruit becomes more abundant! Sure it hurts to have anything snipped from our lives, but ignoring the need to prune ourselves is exactly what allows evil to run rampant in the world. Why? Because it hinders the growth of the good stuff — the evil-defeating good stuff.
© 2001 by Terry A. Modica