I often reflect on the sap circulating through the stems of plants or trees. Sap is a watery fluid with dissolved sugars and mineral salts. Flowing in the cells of the plant, the sap transports a watery solution of hormones, mineral elements and nutrients from the roots to the leaves and flowers. Like the blood in our body, sap is an essential and fundamental element of life.
Look at the pears, apples, grapes, persimmons, pumpkins or watermelons dangling from stems. How curious and marvelous it is to see those abundant fruits! Hanging in the air, the fruits don't fall down easily unless a strong wind or storm attacks them. The inner power of the sap in the stems is so powerful and enduring that it lets the fruits maintain their lives until they are ripe.
Especially, the stems of the grapevine are of no use by themselves alone, except that they bear edible and nutritious grapes. Unlike other trees, we cannot use the grapevine for other purposes. Grapevines are so tightly intertwined that they are not even burned out easily.
Grapevines can be spread long and bear many bunches of grapes unless they are pruned. Happily, the abundant bunches of grapes provide us with various vitamins, vital energy and fatigue recovery. The vital sap springing from the roots always sustains the stems and the fruits.
Because of its enduring vitality and interrelationship, Jesus compared himself with the vine, saying that "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. Whomsoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:4-5)
Only when we remain in the compassionate love of Jesus, we can do something good and bear much fruit. All kinds of good things come from this interrelationship. The close interrelationship is also seen in various fruits attached to the stems by the help of the sap.
What makes those fruits sustain abundant vitality? Surely, their secret would be the sap flowing through the stems or in the branches directly linked to the roots.
The sap is much more than the blood. It is something like the spirit or the soul, breathing and living freely in our body. We cannot see the spirit living in us but we are lively, active, joyful, happy, and vital thanks to that spirit.
As the sap maintains and preserves the vine and the grapes, so the inner spirit is sustained through prayer, the words of God, every kind of spiritual virtue, and active love. So Jesus appeals us to remain in his words.
"Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you… As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love." (Jn 15:7-6, 9-10)
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