Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
As we continue through John’s Gospel today we have Jesus’ “I am
the Vine” discourse. There is a wonderful reflection on this discourse
called Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson if you are interested
in reflecting deeper about this beautiful call to discipleship.
Grape vines, unless meticulously cared for, usually do not produce much fruit.
Their natural growth pattern is to produce creeping vines along the ground
or on anything that they can find for support. If you have ever seen
a vineyard or pictures of one you will notice that the vine is thick and
strong and stands about waist height, with the branches trained to grow along
the trellises. The branches are pruned so that the nutrients can produce
more fruit and not be wasted supporting excess vegetative growth. This
is the work of the vine grower.
Jesus describes four types of branches in his parable: the ones that bear
no fruit; ones that bear fruit; those that bear more fruit; and those that
bear much fruit. It might seem that we are just talking about outward
appearances as is being argued in the reading from Acts, but Jesus makes
it clear that abundance is related to inward movements and intentions.
This is not about evangelization of others, but evangelization of ourselves.
Bearing fruit is the destiny of all believers. Jesus wants us to bear
fruit and bear it abundantly. Jesus asks us to accept the commandments,
the teachings and the disciplines of our faith. This is how we are
“trained” so that we can bear more fruit.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you…you will bear much
fruit.” What is Jesus telling us? How are we to remain in God?
How do we “remain” in anyone? Once we have a relationship with someone
then they ‘remain’ in our thoughts. They ‘remain’ in our intentions
and motivations. We ‘are’ for them and ‘do’ for them even when they
are not around. We are open to them, available to them, tolerant and
forgiving of their failings. You could say that we are “pruned” when we develop
a relationship with them.
In a “fruitful” relationship this is reciprocal: we ‘remain’ in their thoughts,
in their intentions and motivations. They ‘are’ and ‘do’ for us and
are forgiving of our failings. How is that relationship developed?
Time. We make time for them; they are a priority in our life.
We do not need to schedule them into our day, rather our day is scheduled
around them. We “prune” everything else so we have productive time
to spend with them.
So, how do we “remain” in God? Set apart the kind of time that will
build relationship. Deepen the quality of the time we set apart to
God. Allowing God to “train” (the Latin word is disciplina)
us and “prune” us. We need to be available, open and accepting of our
human failings, trusting that God will provide whatever we need to ‘be’ and
‘do’ what is asked of us.
Bearing much fruit is the destiny of every believer. If God
chose us for abundance, God created us to deeply desire abundance.
How can we ever hope to find fulfillment with a ½ -empty basket of
Lord, help me today and everyday to remain in you so that I may
offer an abundance of the fruit of your love to all who I encounter.