There is beautiful imagery as we read today’s Gospel. Vines, all connected to Christ, close to him, bearing abundant fruit. The leaves are lush, the grape clusters ready to burst because of the life and sweetness in them. There is much fruit because we remain with Jesus. Read John 15:2, “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit.” This verse points out 2 things: branches that bear no fruit are taken away from Jesus and if a branch is bearing fruit it will be pruned to bear more.
I think looking at this helps answer the question that I often ask the Lord, “Are we done yet?” Too vague? I’ll expand it. I pray, asking for guidance or a solution to a problem. And I get an answer that, without giving you details, is an invitation to change something about myself that will help me become more connected to Jesus and better able to serve and bear more fruit. And I balk. “Again, Lord? More to get rid of? Shift my thought process?” As I read this gospel, I realized, my response lacks trust. I’m not being asked to change because I’m not bearing fruit, it’s so I can bear more fruit.
Each of us has a part in building up the Kingdom of God. And it is unique to you. If Jesus asks to prune you, it is a sign of trust and belief in you. Allow him to change you. Our good is all he desires.
The rest of the passage reminds us to stay close to him. The best ways to do that – prayer, the sacraments, reading scripture. Then, we need to move out of ourselves and serve others in some way.
I believe Jesus when he says, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) I have seen this many times over in my life. We receive a supernatural ability to bring Christ to others when we stay close to him.
It may be time to allow Jesus to cut away the habits or sins or character traits that are not helpful to remaining on the vine. That is my prayer and I invite you to consider it to be yours this week; ask Jesus what needs to go so you can bear more fruit for him.