Weekly Homilies

The Vine of God's Mercy (John 15:1-8)

April 28, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 16
The Vine of God's Mercy (John 15:1-8)
Weekly Homilies

Hi everyone, and welcome to Weekly Homilies with Father Mark Suslenko, Pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. We are part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. I'm Carol Vassar, parish director of communications, and this is Episode 16 of Season 7 for the Fifth Sunday of Easter - April 28, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 15, verses 1-8.

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 every one 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord 

“The Vine of God’s Divine Mercy,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

It really does us well to reflect and study the lives of folks who have really lived their life, grafted to the vine of Jesus; really lived their life close to the heart of Jesus.  One such individual is St. Therese of Lisieux,  whom I've been doing some reading about lately.  Pope Francis wrote a very beautiful reflection on her life, highlighting some of her major contributions to the spiritual life and also to the Church as well in general.  And one of the things that she really highlights and points out and develops is a deep understanding of God's divine mercy:  God's divine mercy.  And God's mercy, of course, is very intimately connected to God's unconditional love.  And this understanding that she has come upon is actually what fuels her hope and gives her this untiring hope to endure all things and see beyond all things.  It is this hope that really engulfed her life.  

She relates a story about a man by the name of Henri Pranzini.  Henri Pranzini was convicted at the time of three very brutal murders for which he was totally unrepentant.  And she learned about Mr. Pranzini and was very drawn to him spiritually.  And so she made the remark that in the end, even if he is unrepentant,  God will pardon him.  She was so confident in God's divine mercy that even if he remained unrepentant, God would pardon him.  And so she set about having Masses said for him, prayed for him regularly,  and when the day came for him to be hanged,  while he was on the scaffold, as it was the custom at the time, he was visited by a priest and the priest had a crucifix,  and Henri reached for the crucifix and then kissed it three times.  This deeply moved St. Therese and really convicted her in her desire then to truly live the rest of her life for the salvation of souls and to make that her aim even in her own death. 

She wrote a very beautiful reflection about the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman at the well, that Gospel story with which we're all very familiar.  And she says, as Jesus approached her,  it wasn't for a physical drink that he was seeking,  but he was thirsty for her love.  She remarked that the creator of the universe simply wanted the love of this poor woman as Jesus does for each one of us.  

You know, we can speak so much about God's love and mercy, but it's really what God desires is for us to love him,  to be grafted to that vine as St. Therese was, and to understand God's merciful love.  St. Therese was convinced that if everyone knew God's mercy and how unconditional it really is, we could not help but then love him in return.  And so when we do, and we live our lives grafted to the vine, close to Jesus,  then God is able to deepen and enrich those three beautiful gifts he gives: us the gift of faith,  the gift of certain hope, and the gift of perfect love.  And with these we can set about the business of our lives working for God and the good of the Church. 

Father Mark Suslenko is the pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Learn more about our parish community at www.isidoreandmaria.org. And follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Our music comes free of charge from Blue Dot Sessions in Fall River, Massachusetts. I’m Carol Vassar. Thanks for joining us.