I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. If any of my branches doesn’t bear fruit, he breaks it off; and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit.
You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you, if you don’t remain in me.
I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away, as they do with branches, and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask whatever you want, and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit: it is then that you become my disciples.
Today’s gospel reading is all about “bearing (much) fruit” (six times in eight verses!). Now what exactly does Jesus mean by this expression?
Some Christians—the super-activists among us—might spontaneously associate “bearing fruit” with being fruitfully productive, achieving tangible results (v.g. on the stock market), coming out with a new idea, making one’s mark in the financial world, setting a new fashion in clothes, creating a new kind of pizza, inventing a new time-saving device, and so on. But surely the Virgin Mary, who did nothing of the above, was far more fruitful than any human being before or after her because the fruit she bore, the fruit of her womb, was God himself. She was eminently fruitful, but not productive in the activist sense of the word.
Jesus warns us in this gospel passage that without him we can do nothing. To our activist mentality, this may seem strange, for we are aware that we can do a lot of things without ever referring to him. But these things are all useless for the Kingdom if Jesus does not inspire our action, guide it and constantly sustain it. Are we convinced that without Jesus all our busyness is just that—meaningless hustle and bustle?
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