From the Word of the Day
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15: 1-5, 8)
Today’s passage is still from Jesus’ farewell discourse in which He gives His spiritual testament to His disciples before leaving this world. Here Jesus states that He is the vine and they are the branches. The real vine of Isaiah is Jesus and the Father takes care of His vineyard, pruning the branches so that they will bear abundant fruit. But what is the fruit that Jesus insists upon so much in the Gospel? The fruit God wants from every believer is that they become disciples of Jesus, as the last line of the passage states.
We become disciples of Jesus because it is a life-long process, part of our journey on this earth that becomes ever more dynamic.
These words of Jesus sound like a prophetic promise given to all the disciples of every epoch and therefore to me and you as well. However, I must remember that the branches are nothing without the vital lymph that comes from the vine; the vine and the branches form one organism.
We are dealing with a real reciprocal immanence expressed by a characteristic formula and a verb typical of John repeated in this passage seven times. The verb is ‘remain’ and it erupts in the concise phrase, “Without me you can do nothing”. This does not negate our capacities but must be understood according to the perspective of the ‘fruit’ that supports the whole context. It means the disciples must receive Jesus’ work in themselves, which comes first, and to unite it intimately to their own, which comes second, in the one synergy that can produce abundant fruit.
Lord, I want to remain in You so that our fruit will be abundant.
The Voice of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
Now I begin to be a disciple. (He said this on his journey to martyrdom in Rome)