In the Gospel of John we hear about a vineyard and how so much of keeping up with that vineyard, maintaining it, requires attention. It requires pruning, cultivation, sacrifice, and connection. All of these things have come to life for me in a very real way and it also helped me understand a little more of what Christ speaks of in John 15
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, 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 15:1-5
The image of the vine and branches becomes a very beautiful way of understanding God’s love and the different gifts and graces He can provide to us throughout our lives. The vineyard in the gospel is symbolic of our spiritual life and our relationship with Christ. How we maintain our “vineyard” will determine how successful the fruit of our own harvest will be. Cultivating the ground requires water, turning and clearing from weeds that prevent a strong healthy vine. Pruning, in our lives as we all know, is a very painful thing to do and so often requires sacrifice. But Christ calls us to prune, and he’s there to help. In an unpruned vineyard, the water, the life-giving nutrient is being divided among so many branches and vines that the grapes become small, with little or no chance of growing. That concept, is having our focus on so many things that there is never really a full, concentrated attention on one thing, our fruit becomes virtually small and therefore useless after harvest. The invitation is to place all our trust and focus on Christ being the living water, providing for us all that we need. Christ says that the Father prunes so that the vine bears more fruit, and much bigger fruit. God being the vine-grower, knows exactly what parts of us to keep, and those parts to throw away. So what might the challenges be for us?
Pruning away those extra things in our own lives so that we become liberated from the distractions and divisions that keep us from a fruitful and complete relationship with God the Father. Having so much trust in God that, upon pruning those things out of our lives, we are able to enter into a greater, fulfilling and life-giving connection with God.
“Remain in my love.” –John 15:10
As we were harvesting our year’s grapes, I found a prayer rising out of my own heart. To let God be the vine-grower in my own life, pruning away things that so often get in the way, distract or prevent me from being all that I can be. To help me place a complete trust in Him so much that within me there is always a desire to remain in His vineyard, and in His love.