The rose bush is a beautiful bush. Its' flower is a symbol love, romance and joy. This is the most popular flower for Valentines day. It can tell someone "I love you" and it can tell someone "I'm sorry." It is often sent to someone who is sick to show caring and this bush can also be an image of God's plan of salvation for us.
If someone were to plant a rose bush, they would also need to know how to care for it. The rose bush will need to be watered, have the right amount of sunlight, must be protected from the wind, and to be pruned in order to produce beautiful flowers. If the rose bush gets too much or not enough water, the bush will die. If it gets too much sun, it will dry up, but if it doesn't get enough sunshine, it will not be able to get the nourishment it needs and will die. If not protected from harsh winds, it will be uprooted and die. If the bush has any branches that are not bearing flowers, they will be cut off and thrown out. And one of the worst thing one can do to a rose bush is to let it grow wild. The bush becomes so big that it will need all the water, sunshine and nourishment just to sustain the bush, leaving little to nothing for the flowers to bloom. And a rose bush that does not produce flowers is destroyed.
In today's Gospel, Jesus tell the disciples, "I am the true vine and the 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." The rose bush requires the same care. God the Father created the rose bush, provides the water, sunshine, nourishment and gives us the intellect to care for it so we can enjoy the beauty of his creation. We also are called to bear fruit and our Father has provided all our needs. Jesus is the vine, you and I are the branches. The rose bush must provide the flower and you and I must provide the fruit.
So what must we do in order to bear much fruit? Jesus gives us the answer. "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing." Jesus also tells us a branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains on the vine, neither can we bear fruit unless we remain in him. Jesus says "if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you." And Jesus tells us, "You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you."
The word that Jesus refers to is love. In 1 John 3, he says, "Children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and truth." Our deeds of love and truth are our fruits. We find these fruits of love and truth in Jesus' life and his teachings. He taught us not only to pray, but how to pray. He taught us how to love by the life he lived, from the manger, all the way to the cross. We are called to love everyone and in every situation to love. He taught us the healing that comes from forgiveness, the love that is shown in charity, through the compassion found in acts of kindness, humility created in service to others, and our need of God's mercy in our lives and in the world.
He taught us about our Father. He taught us the strength in obedience, the power in sacrifice and the endurance in hope. We are called to live in His truth, to obey His word, to allow His word to guide us in right ways. It is by loving always and living always in His truth that we are able to bring God into others' lives. "For it is by this fruit our Father in heaven is glorified, that bear much fruit and become my disciples."
Be a rose for our Savior, Jesus Christ.
God bless you!
Deacon Mike Woiwode