Gospel John 15:1-8
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.”
For the past few weeks we’ve been hearing different metaphors for Jesus in John’s gospel. “I am the Way, I am the Gate, I am the Good Shepherd, I am the Bread of Life…” I relate to today’s “I am” statement from Jesus most of all, because I love plants. I love to garden!
Today, Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Without me you can do nothing.” It has been my experience in life that no truer words have been spoken. I often remind myself of Jesus’ words here when the pace of my life quickens and my life becomes centered around responsibilities and events – not properly centered around God and prayer.
Once, when I confessed that I had not been praying enough – giving God the time that He deserves – a wise priest told me that we must discipline ourselves to center the events and duties of our lives around prayer – not prayer around the events of our days. As we have all experienced, life – with its whirlwind of activity – has a way of squeezing out “God time.” We don’t do this intentionally. It just happens.
That is why we must intentionally set aside time each day to read scripture, talk to God and time just to listen. Whenever I try to “run the show” alone, I get so depleted! As a disciple, or follower of Christ, I can’t “bear much fruit” if depleted. I must stay connected to the vine throughout the course of my day in order to bring others to Him.
Bearing great fruit is not as easy as it sounds. I think of my fig tree in the backyard that I prune severely every other season so that it doesn’t get too tall (proud) for me to reach the fruit. I also prune it so that it does produce fruit abundantly in early summer. God prunes us from time to time for our own good and for the good of others. It is a painful process. He allows tough times, sickness, job loss, trials, etc. to make us stronger. If we allow Him to fashion us, He can use our lives as testimony to faith, as living proof of His loving care and Divine Providence.
Whatever good we try to do devoid of God, the Vine, will be naturally thwarted. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. However, joined to Him, taking our very life and direction from Him, He can use us to change our families, our communities and our world – one soul at a time!