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.”(John 15:1-8)
There is a profound beauty in today’s Gospel. It’s the invitation to keep our lives centered on Jesus Christ and in so doing, our lives will be blessed abundantly. Not so much in terms of materiality but rather that our lives are magnified by His presence in us. He is the true vine and each of us has the opportunity to be a fruitful branch.
Our actions, our words, our very being can be used to bring Him glory. Our actions, our words, our very being can be used to bring others to Him. Our actions, our words, our very being can be used to magnify His love for us throughout the world. He wants our lives to be fruitful and He wants to use us as powerful instruments of His grace in the world. That is both humbling and, at the same time, glorious!
In truth, isn’t that what we believe as followers of Christ? Christianity is not just a religion of “don’ts” but one of “do’s”. Christ is very definite about it, “You must bear fruit in plenty,” fruits of good works. The only thing that matters is “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6) or as St James beautifully put it: “What good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it?”
We bear fruit abundantly by being attached to and living in the Vine, Jesus Christ. We must be abiding in Jesus and He in us, and stay in communion with all the others who abide in Jesus. This life of union with Christ is necessarily something which goes far beyond one’s private life: it has to be focused on the good of others; and if this happens, a fruitful apostolate is the result.
But Jesus reminds us that there is a balancing that must take place continuously. It lies in a spiritual pruning that each of us is called to do. A life of good acts which is not accompanied by a spiritual life focused on Jesus Christ falls far short. So too does a life of prayer not accompanied by being Jesus to one another.
Spiritual pruning takes the form of letting God eliminate the vices in our lives so that the virtues can be properly nourished. This is especially done by letting Him humble us and strip away our pride. This can hurt, but the pain associated with being humbled by God is a key to spiritual growth. By growing in humility, we grow ever more reliant upon the source of our nourishment rather than relying upon ourselves, our own ideas and our own plans. God is infinitely wiser than us and if we can continually turn to Him as our source, we will be far stronger and better prepared to let Him do great things through us.
Pray this day that you will let the Lord prune away all that is not of Him in your life. Trust in Him and His divine plan and know that this is the only path to bearing the good fruit God wants to bear through you.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as My All.”
There are many seductions and distractions in our world also inviting us to make our home in them but if we do our branch will wither and we will not bear fruit. There are many voices in the world telling us to eat the apple from the tree and then we will have life and all will be well. But after eating the apple we discover that we are worse and even more unhappy. So, we make our home in Jesus. He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life and when we make our home in Him, we bear fruit.