The Gospel according to 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.”
Opening Prayer: O God, restorer and lover of innocence, direct the hearts of your servants towards yourself, that those you have set free from the darkness of unbelief may never stray from the light of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever Amen.
Today we are invited to recognize our close relationship with Jesus, which he compares to the relationship between a vine and the branches that grow on it. What does it mean for our lives, that the life of Jesus flows into us? Ask yourself, what does it mean for me personally to know that I am as much a part of Jesus as the branch is a part of the vine? Are there things in my life that would be different if I consciously realized this, and what are they? Reflect on these things, that we talk to Jesus about, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten us.
Notice that this parable is addressed to Jesus’ disciples, specifically. These are instructions for fruitful discipleship. God has chosen us, his disciples today, to bear fruit. Jesus tells his disciples and us as well, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (John 15:16).
The fruits of our Christian life are the work of God. Each of us can see the life and work of God in others – in ministry, in love, in commitment, courage, endurance, and ordinary daily kindness and compassion. Each of us, too, is gifted in some unique way. We can bear fruit for God in a way nobody else can. Prayer helps us recognize these fruits, develop them and offer them in the service of God and in God’s people. Jesus reminds us that we are totally dependent on remaining close to him in order to have a fruitful life:
“Without me you can do nothing.”
The term ‘to abide’ was music to the Hebrews who had been nomads and exiles. They longed for a place in which they could rest permanently. Jesus offers, not a country, but his very self, for this abiding. Relationship, not place, is what matters. It is comforting that even though my life is always changing, Jesus is my home, my permanent resting place.
I have had the privilege, in my life to work in a Garden nursery, along side some very knowledgeable people in the art of growing fruits and vegetables, successfully. There are surprisingly basics needs for plants that also apply to us as human beings. Things like plenty of oxygen to breathe, water to nourish and hydrate and this simple process called photosynthesis that take the light from the sun and, through the leaves, produces food, which allows the plant to grow. But pruning is an essential preparation for growing fruit. Imagine a grapevine that is overgrown with old or broken branches. Without pruning, it grows wild and only tiny grapes are produced on the branches. As we know Jesus is the true light that produces the food, through His word, that nourishes our soul. God disciplines us when we read and reflect on his word daily. Notice how closely the word “discipline” is to “disciple.” To be a disciple is to be obedient. In Scripture, God reinforces our good actions and habits and patiently persuades us from our sinful actions and habits. St. Paul teaches us “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit.
We can ask ourselves if there is anything that is preventing us from bearing fruit. Do we spend too much time on social media, scrolling through the news, connected to our smart phones, or watching television?
God’s love is the energy for discipleship. It produces the fruit attached to the vine. The love of God comes through Christ the Vine and enters into our hearts, which we then pour out for others. You might think of the Holy Spirit as the essence of God’s love. Imagine the love of God being poured into the Holy Spirit, like a river of living water (John 7:37) flowing through Christ the Vine and into our hearts (the branches), which are attached to Christ’s. This is how the love of God flows to us. It is the life and love of the Holy Trinity itself flowing into our hearts. How can we not love and serve God with confidence? We can only love others if we have the love of God flowing to us through Christ: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Closing Prayer: Jesus, your Sacred Heart is the true vine, and my human heart is a branch. Send your Holy Spirit of living water to quench my heart with your love. Your love is like water, refreshing and life-sustaining. Without earthly water, I would die. Without living water, my soul would also perish. Fill me with your love and help me pour it out to others in fruitful discipleship.
Action of the Day: Today, through deep prayer, ask Jesus to help you to see and fully understand what is ‘Not’ of Him so that it can be pruned away allowing you to grow and blossom in His love so that all will see and feel His love through each of you.