Fifth Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 15: 1-8
The vine was another of Jesus’ favourite images for himself and he uses it to help his disciples understand the closeness of their relationship. They were not simply rabbi and disciples but their lives were mutually dependent - as close as a vine and its branches.
To produce fruit true to type, a vine is grafted onto a strong rootstock - two plants, in effect become one. The rootstock goes deep into the ground drawing up the nutrients the plant needs. In their turn, the branches grow from the main plant and break into leaf and tendril. The problem is that, left to themselves, the branches will grow and grow... this may be a joy to watch and a fine example of exuberant growth but it is, unfortunately, at the expense of any grapes that may be trying to grow on the vine. The plant is so busy sending energy to the farthest reaches of the branches that the poor grapes get by-passed!
So, it is necessary for the vine-dresser to curb the branches’ enthusiasm: the branches are pruned back almost to the grapes so that the energy is channelled into fruitfulness and not into foliage! At the same time, any branches not bearing fruit are removed - again so that the plant’s energy is directed to its fruit.
Although we may not like the idea of being pruned, we can see that sometimes, we do get carried away with things. We use a lot of energy in things that may not necessarily be very fruitful. It looks good - but, in the longer term, may be disappointing: we feel we have little to show for all our busy-ness.
Every so often, we need to allow God to prune our branch back to the grapes He wants us to bear. This may not be pleasant - but, as the saying goes, “When the gardener prunes his plants, it’s at that time that he is closest to them”. God comes close to us - and examines us to see where we are bearing fruit - we can invite Him to prune away the things that waste our energy so that we can bear the fruits of the Kingdom.
It is not something we could do alone - we would be left weak and vulnerable. Fortunately, we can remind ourselves that, in being pruned back, we are being pruned closer to our main stem - our True Vine - Jesus.
What does this mean for me?