As I read Wednesday’s Gospel reading (John 15:1-8), I remembered taking a picture of grapes in the convent garden of Iraqi Dominican Sisters in Pisa, Italy. The sisters there were taking safe refuge. Some of our U.S. Dominican congregations have also received young Dominican sisters from Iraq so that they could safely study in this country before returning to Iraq to do ministry.
These sisters truly are bearing fruit courageously, and have learned how to rely resting in Christ and on the blessings of the larger Dominican family. In return, they have blessed us, even those of us who have not been privileged to share their lives. I am reminded that, through through these sisters, I have family in Iraq. I am reminded that, through the ministry of Dominicans anywhere in the world, our ministry is extended . . . and that I am there too.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.