Contributor: Chris Mayr
Lectionary Link: http://lectionarypage.net/YearABC/HolyDays/Matthias.html
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
“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. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”
Fruit + Love =Joy
If you don't know it already, after I retired from the University of Minnesota in April 2019 I went to Clown Camp to become a clown. Thanks to a 30% discount and Kohl's cash, (do you think my wife would pay full price for such crazy clothes?) I found a pineapple suit. After we found a pineapple hat (it's amazing what you can find on Amazon), I became Mr. Pineapple. Perhaps you knew I was destined for this? I feel God called me to do this for a growing neglected segment of society, the wonderful senior citizens, who have made this world so great for us. The folks I serve might not hear me, nor see me and perhaps won't remember me the next day, but, if I can be present for them, listen to them and bring a spark of joy, then we will have accomplished what Christ has asked me to do in this passage from John.
What a perfect reading for Mr. Pineapple? Perhaps for you? It's got fruit (obviously, a clown named Mr. Pineapple would be attracted to a passage about fruit, right?)! Fruit is considered a good thing...as in the results of work, a harvest or activity, "fruits of our labor." It is a reference to offspring of which you and I are of our mother, and referenced in the prayer Hail Mary, "blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." And of course, fruit is something we eat to nourish us and bring us energy!
This reading is focused on love! As in the love that Mr. Pineapple witnessed from the daughters of Gladys Ramsay (pictured) Jan and Joan who visited her frequently and who put on a lovefest 100th birthday celebration at Lyngblomsten in St. Paul over a year ago. From the offspring of elderly parents to volunteer visitors, from nurses and chaplains to nurses and aids, love flows throughout this veritable love palace on Almond Avenue! That's the love Christ showed to his disciples and wants us to show to others.
Adding all those together, it brings joy! That is what Mr. Pineapple sees every time he goes to do his caring clowning in the people around him and people he visits. Who knew that one day this passage would be such a driving force in my life...as a clown? Dear faith family member reader, what does that mean to you? Take a moment and reflect upon this passage. Think about how you can bear fruit and become a disciple. Think about the love others bring to you and you to them. Finally experience the joy you bring to them and they to you. You don't have to be a clown or even put on a red nose (although I can get you one if you need one) to experience this fabulous formula for life. Fruit + Love =Joy