Jesus in the gospel today, uses this powerful image of the vine and its branches to convey this very important message: God is the source of our very life and strength; without Him, life is barren, useless, nothing.
Jesus uses this image because He knows that His disciples understand well the vital relationship between the vine and its branches and the equal significance of pruning the latter in order for them to bear much fruit. It is a common agricultural knowledge for them since growing grapes, which are vines, are quite common in their place.
And so for Jesus this is a perfect image for his message: He is indeed the vine, the source of life and fruitfulness, and we are His branches. If we remain attached with Him we can become fruitful. But apart from Him life would be nothing.
Jesus tells us that this must be the kind of relationship that we should all strive to have with Him. We should always be connected with Him at all times and never allow ourselves to be separated from Him lest we die.
One of the best ways to get always connected with Him is through prayer. Our constant communication with Him in prayer keeps us in touch with Him and nourishes our relationship with Him. Communication always plays a great role in cultivating and maintaining a good and heathy relationship not only with God but also among us. People maintain and strengthen their bonds of relationship through good and constant communication.
Prayer is the best way to communicate with God. It helps us stay connected with Him. Through prayer, God bestows upon us his enormous graces, protects us from evil and guides us in our journey. Thus, if we are always with Him in prayer, like a branch attached firmly to its heathy vine, we will certainly bear more fruits.
Remember what happens when we stop praying and disconnect ourselves from Jesus? We become weak, spiritually weak. Our desire to fight temptations ceases. Our minds are clouded with our inordinate desires. Thus, we become more prone to commit sins and eventually fall away from Him.
However, some of us may argue that if it is true that when one is separated from God, especially by way of committing sins, grave sins, then why is it that evil people in this world continue to thrive and prosper? Why is it that the more they separate themselves from God, the more they become richer and powerful?
To avoid this confusion we have to understand that the fruitfulness that Jesus speaks about when we remain with Him is not about increase in material possessions, fame or power but increase of good deeds and holiness due to our firm attachment with God.
If we are with Christ always, we will continue to do more good deeds to others and to ourselves. The more we do good works, the more we become holier and closer to God. The holier and closer we are to God, the happier we become.
And this should always be our aim: to bear good fruits, to continue to do good deeds and be holy and just in the eyes of God. We can only do those things if we remain attached with Jesus, the vine, our source of life and strength, our true source of happiness and peace.
May we all remain connected with Christ and live a happy, bountiful and holy life.
- Fr Emil Valeza
Photo credits to the owner