HABITS Produce Much Fruit

5th Sunday of Easter
By Deacon Dick Kostner

Descending VineyardOur Gospel from John has Jesus telling his disciples, telling us, how we can survive and be happy not only in this life but gain for us everlasting life if we but realize our dependence for success and life depends on our acceptance of the fact that we cannot succeed without help from the “Vine,” without Jesus. In preparing for this homily, I went to Formed to get their take on today’s gospel. The minister who reflected upon the Gospel said that we need “HABITS” to allow us to produce fruits from the vine of God, who is Jesus, in order to deal with the challenges that we will face if we wish to be followers of Christ and find peace and experience a successful life as we journey to the Father’s house.

H” stands for Holy Time. We need to commit and schedule within our busy life “time” to communicate with Jesus. Many refer to this communication as prayer. I like to think of it as conversation with Jesus about challenges that we are facing as we journey as well as pleasures and great happiness gifts that we appreciate and recognize as being given to us by God, the “dog treats” God graces us with for being fruitful branches of His divine vine. The minister suggested starting with a commitment of ten minutes a day to communicate with Jesus and letting it grow from there.

A” stands for Accountability. The minister said this stands for us having at least one close friend that we can confide in and request guidance, when we need help and direction. I would suggest that this be a person who has already established a close relationship with Jesus and who is a healthy branch of the vine of Jesus. I can remember when shortly after I was ordained I met with our new priest, Fr. Norm Boneck, and asked him if I could develop a per-baptism class at St. Paul’s as we had no program at that time and he responded by saying, “NO! I want you to start an RCIA program for the parish!” Panic hit me. I had absolutely no experience or knowledge of how that could happen. I thought to myself, “Man, you picked the wrong dude to tackle that job.” Barb remembered that one of my deacon friends had mentioned that he and his wife had done a program at their parish, and she suggested I call him and yell “help!” I did that and he invited us to go to Wisconsin Rapids and met with him for some advice. The first thing he said to me is to not worry and that he had experienced the same panic and that the Holy Spirit would not let be get into too deep of water so as to drown. With His help and guidance St. Paul’s began an RCIA program which has produced much fruit from this Branch.

B” stands for Bible. We need to get to know Jesus as a person and that can best be accomplished by reading about him and living a life based on the Gospel messages. Through Scripture we learn that Jesus was given to us to shepherd his followers. We discover that there does exist an evil one who uses the tools of confusion, deception, and fear to control us and lead us away from the protection of the Good Shepherd and his guard dog His Church. We have witnessed this first hand this last year where the world has become afraid and confused by the Covid. We see how evil has attacked our guardian the Church and the faith it teaches to leave us feeling helpless. All this helps separate us from truth and the protection our faith gives us to suppress and overcome the evil in this world.

I” stands for Investing and supporting the parish we are assigned too. The message from Jesus is that we not only read his Word but also live his Word by example. Good fruit requires commitment in the form of financial support of our parish as well as a commitment of our time and talents to our parish so that it may remain healthy and fruitful. Our parish needs your commitment of time, talent, and treasures to be a successful and healthy branch of God that will produce much fruit. Statistics show that only about 30% of a parish membership support their church with their commitment. Only 30% of the people are helping to keep the branch of Christ active and healthy. That percentage needs to increase if we are to produce a good crop of fruit during our lives.

T” stands for Tell Others. We need to share with others the benefits that we will be gifted with if we are productive branches of Christ. We need to share with others the “dog treats” the graces that God has bestowed upon us for being active followers of Jesus. Jesus tells us to spread the Good Word.

Finally, “S” stands for Sacraments. The Church of Jesus is one that is based on Sacrament. Sacrament bestows upon us graces which can and will produce super natural powers that will be gifted upon those who celebrate the Sacraments. These gifts from Jesus will provide us with energy and powers of accomplishment beyond human capabilities. Through the spiritual graces gifted us through participation in the Sacraments the Branches are fed nutrients from the Vine that will allow us to accomplish tasks that would otherwise be humanly impossible.

Bottom line is that we are all dependent upon the Vine for protection from the storms of life and production of fruit. Let us all form HABITS that will make us healthy branches that will produce much fruit from the vine for all who wish to enter the Kingdom of God.

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