In today’s Gospel reading, we experience the imagery of the vine and the branches. As the branch of the vine matures, it begins to look more like the vine itself. As it remains connected, is sustained by the nourishment provided, and protected by the vine grower, the branches become more and more conformed to the vine. This is also true in the event that a branch not originally attached to the vine is grafted to it. Over time, the branches are almost indistinguishable from the vine itself.
Our hope, as disciples of Jesus, no matter what our background, culture, gender, ethnicity, or race will be the same. We are to be one as the Son and the Father are one. As St Paul has written to the Churches in Galatia and Collosse: In Christ there is neither Jew or Greek, circumcision or uncircumcision, male or female, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free because we are all one in Christ (cf. Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11).
We are not to be automatons, cyborg, ants, all following mindlessly. Being a Christian means the opposite, the more we are conformed to Jesus, the more we come to know him and also to really come to know the uniqueness of ourselves. When we let go of the pressures to conform to that which stunts our growth, we can then begin to embrace who we are in the truth of our reality and dignity. That sense of being fully who we are that sometimes just wants to burst out is allowed to be free when we die to our false selves and live in Christ.
We are constantly tempted with turning in upon ourselves and when we do so, we disconnect ourselves from the vine, from the very source of our life. Just as the body will suffer without water regularly, so our soul will suffer if we are separated from the living spring of our sustenance. Remaining attached to Jesus, the vine, means that we will mature and live our life to the full, with joy that reaches out beyond ourselves to serving the needs of others, thus bearing fruit to share.
We can bear fruit that will last today and all days by putting the words of St Paul into action: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).