The greatest person in all of history to walk the face of the earth, Jesus the Christ, wrote no books, left no buildings or monuments behind. However, he did something far greater and more necessary, though less ostentatious, Jesus formed a community. That is his legacy!
We heard in today’s Gospel account, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” This is a very powerful image as Jesus is speaking about the community he formed. It is a simple but profound illustration of unity, closeness, and interdependence.
In the springtime of the year the branches of the vine are filled with life in the form of leaves and blossoms. In the autumn of the year they are loaded with grapes. The branches have life that enables them to produce fruit, only because they are connected to the vine. Just as the branches need the vine, so we need Christ. Separated from him, we have no life and are unable to produce fruit.
The vine also needs the branches as it is the branches that bring forth the fruit. This is a beautiful images as it tells us that Christ also needs us. We are his branches. Vine and branches are in need of each other if the end result is to be achieved. When we see Christ and us intimately linked, we understand the great trust he places in us.
Jesus depends on us to produce fruit in the world. There is a major difference between being successful in life and being fruitful in life. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. It brings rewards and sometimes fame and popularity. Fruitfulness, however, often comes from weakness and vulnerability, and more often than not, it goes unrecognized and unrewarded.
Jesus does not ask us to be successful. He asks us to be fruitful. Each of us has been blessed with many gifts. We are to develop, use and share these gifts with others. When we do this we bring forth rich and abundant fruit. This fruit is a labor of love.
An important thing to remember is that during the winter months the branches on the vine are pruned. Pruning is a painful process but it is necessary to rid the vine of the suckers and excess shoots that use up energy but produce no fruit. The goal of pruning is not to inflict pain, but to help the vine produce more and better fruit.
We, the branches of the True Vine, need pruning, too. All of us have things in our life that are useless and perhaps even harmful, which saps our energy, and diminishes our spiritual fruitfulness. Christ only prunes us in his desire to make us more fruitful.
— Fr. Dennis, April 29, 2018