“Remain in (stay with, dwell, settle in), as I remain in you.
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.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
Last summer I grew some flowering vines on a new trellis in my garden. As they grew and intertwined, it was hard to tell the vine from the branches. By contrast, tree trunks and branches are more clearly defined and distinct, growing to appear to be almost separate entities.
But with a vine, the branches are kept very close to the nurturing vine, so close it is often difficult to distinguish between the two. And this is the graphic image that Jesus chose to describe His intimate and nurturing relationship with us, his disciples, that we read about in today’s Gospel reading!
As we remain (stay with, dwell in, and settle in with) Jesus, he promises we will “bear much fruit”. And we see that “fruit” in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. In these earliest years of the Church, people who would normally not meet because of their religion or ethnicity were drawn together as disciples, as they recognized the same life of Jesus in each other. Saul of Tarsus (modern day Turkey), a Jewish persecutor of Christians had become “Paul” after his conversion experience with Jesus. He tries to join the disciples in Jerusalem, and they are understandably afraid of him. Enter Barnabas who befriends Paul and later goes on mission with him, establishing Christian communities all around the Mediterranean area.
How has your life as a branch on Jesus’ vine been opened to new and fruitful relationships?
Patty Gillis is a retired Pastoral Minister. She served on the Board of Directors at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Laudato Si Vision Fulfillment Team and the Passionist Solidarity Network.