In this passage we see the grapevine as the key symbol. Anyone that knows about grapevines understands that it is a prolific plant where a single vine can bear many grapes.
In this passage we see Christ as the vine, and God the vine grower who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The branches are all who claim to follow Christ. The fruitful branches are believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit. Whereas those who become unproductive – who turn their back on Christ, could be separated from the vine.
But Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of pruning: separating and cutting back. For any branches to be fruitful they have to be cut back to produce much fruit – in other words God sometimes disciplines us to strengthen our character and faith. But branches that don’t bear any fruit are cut off, so they don’t infect the rest of the tree.
But what is this fruit? Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control -the qualities of the Christian character.
Reflect on these qualities for a few minutes.
What are the qualities that show in your life?
What are the qualities that you need at this moment in your life?
If you are leading a group of participants who are in the stage of ‘mystogia’ on the journey of faith, then use this reading or the Galatians reading to help them reflect on their own fruits of the spirit.
The key to all of this is to remain in a strong relationship with Christ (John 15:5): “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing”.
Thank God for his blessings and pray for his graces. Amen.