In Saint John’s Gospel we have another of the beautiful self-identifying utterances of Jesus—the so-called “I am. . .” revelations of himself. If we are to know and understand and love Our Lord, we must pay attention to these words of his and allow them to become the subject of our meditation and prayer.
Today, he tells us, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” He elaborates on this figure of speech: his Father in heaven is the vine-grower. God the Father plants the vine in this world just as a human vine-grower plants cuttings of vines in his vineyard. The human vintner waters his young plants, fertilizers them, cares for them. He prunes the vines carefully lest all the energy of the plant go into superfluous branches and leaves, when what he really wants is large clusters of grapes that are full of juice. God our Father plants this very special vine in this world of ours; it is his own Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Then, by grace, Christ produces branches which become part of himself, the vine, by means of baptism, whereby we are ingrafted into him. When that has taken place, he sends his vitality, his fruit-producing energy into us so that we will bear fruit. He prunes us, cutting off the growth that he does not want so as to insure an abundant harvest of good fruit.
He tells us, “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. Without me, you can do nothing.” Saint Cyril of Alexandria, in commenting on this passage, tells us that the divine vitality and energy which Jesus sends into us is nothing other than the Holy Spirit who enables us to produce fruit. And then, coming to the point of this whole metaphor, Jesus concludes, “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
So, my dear friends, we have been engrafted into Christ by our baptism. He sends his Holy Spirit into us by divine grace; the Spirit energizes us to produce works of holiness: prayer, love of God, love of neighbor, and the eagerness to be of service to both God and neighbor. Let us see ourselves as productive, industrious, eager to be of value to the kingdom of God. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.