THERE CAN BE NO REAL FRUIT APART FROM JESUS
(A biblical refection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [Year B] – May 3, 2015)
Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8
First Reading: Acts 9:26-31; Psalms: Psalm 22:26-28,30-32; Second Reading: 1 John 3:18-24
The Scripture Text
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that is may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he is the bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in Me, any words abide in you, as whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:1-8 RSV)
Have you ever seen a grapevine in the wild? Left to itself, the plant rambles through underbrush and clings to everything in its path. It puts its energy into wrapping itself around rocks, brambles, and tree trunks. It produces small, usually bitter fruit. A well-tended vine – something you’d expect to find on the slopes of wine country in California for instance – is another story entirely. This plant is tall, sturdy, and trained to produce. Thanks to careful pruning, it yields large clusters of healthy, sweet-tasting grapes.
Speaking to people who were well acquainted with the differences between wild and cultivated plants, Jesus used the image of the grapevine to convey an important spiritual truth. God our Father is the vine-grower par excellence, the master cultivator of the human vineyard. Wanting the best for His vines, He enables each one to tap into the source of true life – into an intimate, abiding relationship with His only Son. Maintain this connection, Jesus promises, and you will live an abundant, fruitful life (John 15:5,7).
Characteristically, vines have two kinds of branches: those that bear fruit and those that don’t. The non-producing branches must be carefully pruned so that the vine can devote all its resources to producing the best fruit possible. The same is true of the vines in the Father’s vineyard. Staying connected to Jesus and producing a healthy yield necessarily means allowing ourselves to be pruned. It means trusting in Jesus’ goodness and obeying His commands so that all that is not of Him can be stripped away. That’s how we can produce an abundant harvest, both in our inner lives and in our ability to bring His word and His love to the world around us.
Jesus said that there can be no real fruit apart from Him (John 15:5). There is simple truth here: We are either fruit-bearing or we are not. There is no in-between. Jesus promises us abundant fruit, provided we remain on with Him and say yes to His gentle, but firm, pruning our lives. The heavenly vine-grower awaits our answer. Will you allow Him to cultivate you?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, make my heart one with You and Your Son, so that I may bear fruit that brings You glory and honor. Amen.
Note: Please also read the biblical reflection entitled “TO ABIDE IN JESUS EACH DAY, AS HE ABIDES IN US” (reading for May 6, 2012) in the blog: A CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE.
Jakarta, 1 May 2015
A Christian Pilgrim