A reading from the holy 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 everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you , unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers: and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples."
Jesus refers to himself as the true vine and His Father as the vinedresser. He warns us that if we, who are the branches, do not bear the intended fruit, God cuts us away from the vine and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it bear even more.
God is the true source of life. No one can grow spiritually and morally unless they have their base or root in God. Sometimes a good pruner needs to cut down all the debris, the brown and lifeless branches. A good pruner also knows that at times he needs to cut down to the ground and many times will cut the green branches as well, for the promised good and bountiful fruit.
We are promised by Jesus, "If you remain in me and my Word remains in you ...you will bear much fruit...." and glorify the Father, the pruner, the source of all life.
God is the master gardener--We are asked to yield to His will, inspite of and especially in times of hardships, --lost relationships, loss of a job, a prodigal child, or bad health news. We are asked to give of ourselves completely and accept and know that during these times, when we ask "where is God?" that God is there cleaning up the vine. We are still attached to His love and His wisdom and His mercy.
The dead branches are those who decided to follow the comforts, talents, material treasures and promises of the world. These branches decided to grow away from Jesus for their nourishment and consolation.
Jesus is the vine, the true source of happiness, joy and love. If we are to grow and be fruitful in His many blessings and teachings, we must allow him to take root in our lives and to give us His food of love. We are expected to be fruitful and to produce the finest wine/finest gift to share with others for the greater glory of God.
We might belong to clubs, go to prayer groups, do compassionate and caring work--but it is only God, the pruner, and Jesus, the vine, that sustain us and make us fruitful in living the abundant life which God intends for us. It is only thru Jesus that we can be truly grafted to the vine of life. We are expected to bear fruit. There are times that the branches are at times handled brusquely, and harshly by the pruner but after a season or so the outcome is better fruit.
The fruits that we receive in our lives are the fruits of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. There can be no fruit apart from the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises us that if we abide in him and allow him to work in us, pruning and purifying us, we will bear much fruit.
We are daily challenged to draw our strength from being united in Jesus, being dependent on His Spirit to give us the power to follow Jesus and to constantly remain focused on the glory of God.
We thank you for the nourishment of your love. We thank you for the true riches of wisdom to all who seek and abide by you. There is a time for planting and a time to uproot what is planted. Amen