Dominic Collins – Readings


Commentary on Romans 8:18-23, 25; Ps 123; John 15:1-5

The Gospel reading is from Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper which we find in John. It is from chapter 15 where Jesus speaks of himself as the True Vine. While he himself is the Vine, it is his Father who is the Vinegrower. Jesus’ followers are the branches on the vine. Branches which produce no fruit will be cut off, while branches which do bear fruit will be pruned in order to increase their yield.
It is clear that, if we are to remain united with Christ, we must lead fruitful lives. Others are to benefit from the way we lead our Christian life. Elsewhere Jesus had told his disciples that they were to be the salt of the earth, to be a city on a hill, to be a lamp giving light to everyone in the house. Again, he had said it was no use accepting God’s gifts and then carefully burying them in the ground. They are to be used for the benefit of other people.
But, even in the case of those who are ‘fruitful’, there will always be need of some ‘pruning’. Some form of penance and self-denial is a central part of the fruitful Christian’s life. This penance may be self-chosen or it may come in the course of our daily lives. These are not meant to punish us but rather to purify our intentions and make us more effective in spreading the spirit of the Gospel among other people.
Jesus also emphasises in this image the importance of our being totally united with him. That means we accept entirely his Way of life and try to make it our own. Only then will we have something to share with others. “No more can a branch bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, than can you bear fruit apart from me.” It is only by leading truly fruitful lives that we will give glory to God. Words of adoration alone will not be enough.
Dominic Collins was certainly a fruitful branch on the Vine of Christ. Although urged to save his life by denying his Catholic faith, he refused to do so. And his death was a source of inspiration for many Catholics of his day who were living their Christian life under very difficult circumstances. May he be an inspiration for us, too.

In the First Reading from the Letter to the Romans Paul says that the sufferings he and his fellow-Christians are enduring are as nothing compared to the glory that is to come. He then goes on to link the whole of the created world with God’s plan for the whole human race. “The whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the children of God… The world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Just as creation shares in the human punishment of corruption, so it will also share in the benefits that come from redemption and the glory to come.
Right now, both creation and humanity undergo suffering until they reach, through hope and patient endurance, the full reward of the Spirit’s loving presence. “Although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.”
Already they are experiencing some of the first fruits of this destiny of unending happiness. It is a taste of the full future. But right now “hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance”.
It was this hope which gave Dominic the strength to remain faithful even as he saw his companions executed and who unhesitatingly gave his own life rather than compromise his commitment to his Lord.
 

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