This Sunday, Jesus provides a beautiful image to help us understand our relationship with Him: the vine and branches (John 15:1-8).He says at least five times “remain in Me” – in another translation, we read “live on in Me.” Father Peter John Cameron, OP (To Praise, To Bless, To Preach), asks: What does it mean to remain in, to live on in Jesus? The image of Jesus as the true vine and the Father as the vine grower certainly helps us to answer this question.
Since Jesus is the Vine, and we are the branches, we realize that communion with Jesus is the only true source of virtuous action, of human flourishing. As Jesus states, “without Me you can do nothing.” Indeed, we cannot go to a store and buy faith, hope or love, happiness or holiness – we need Jesus, for He is the source of those virtues. By identifying Himself with a vine, Jesus teaches us that only by remaining in Him can we be faithful, hopeful and loving, and only in Him can we bear the fruits of His Holy Spirit, which include charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity (Galatian 5:22-23).And as the branches of the life-giving Vine, we are to allow God to prune away from our lives everything that distracts, diverts and detracts us from Him, so that we can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
God gives us the ability to remain in Him, to live on in Him, by pruning us. And He does so with His Word and His Teachings that prune away sin, fear, selfishness, doubt and false self-reliance. The more we open ourselves to the pruning power of the Word, the more does His new life flow through us. The more the Lord’s words stay part of us, the more we will see the answers to our prayers according to His divine will. He also prunes us with His Sacraments, His gift of prayer, His Communion of Saints, calling us to obedience, self-surrender and devotion to Him. Being loving, peaceful, joyful and good is a true, infallible sign that we are living in Christ, remaining in Him – and for us to give such witness, gives glory to God.
As branches on the Vine, we also realize that the Vine is not so much about a place for us to inhabit, but about a relationship – as the Vine signifies a relationship that God calls us to embrace. Living on in Jesus, remaining in Him, is to live in God, Who is Love. It is the way that we exist. It is why we exist. It is what brings joy into existence. Amen. Alleluia.
With peace and prayers in Christ,