Are you ready for a trim? In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar teaching of the vine and the branches. Jesus reminds us that if we remain close to him-living in humility, following God’s law, loving our neighbor-we will notice a positive change in our life and the lives of those around us. “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” The Holy Spirit is life-giving. He is fruitful. The Spirit of God won’t refuse grace to a heart that is open.
As we progress through life, learning how to live and love, we grow. Our personalities flower. We discover what it is to be a blessing to others. We also experience lack, loss, and the results of our failures. We know what it is like to “wither” at times, particularly the times when we willingly separate ourselves from Jesus. “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.” For most of us, this experience of being disconnected and off track generates a desire to return to what is right and good, to return to the vine.
But this Gospel is more than “Are you in or are you out?” Even when we remain in God, when we follow Jesus, we are not exempt from the challenge, the pruning. “Everyone that [bears fruit] he prunes.” A prudent trim is necessary in the natural world of trees and vines. Dead wood, broken shoots, and diseased branches need to be cut back in order for the plant to bear fruit. Jesus wants us to be healthy! He says as much himself: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Take a look at your life today. Where are you bearing fruit? Where do you need to be pruned?
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