In today’s gospel Jesus refers to himself as the true vine. This is the last
of the “I am” statements in John’s gospel. These are statements made by
Jesus about his identity as the Son of God. He uses other images such as the
resurrection and the life, the bread of life, the light of the world. Last
week he used the image of the good shepherd.
Again, the image is a common one for the disciples. Vines, grape vines, were
common throughout Israel as were the vine keeping practices. But, as with
the images Jesus used, it takes a little time to drill down into the
significance and symbolism of the image. One such significance is the
dependency between vine and gardener, Son and Father. A vine’s purpose is to
produce fruit. The gardener is there to make sure that it happens. Fruit
will only appear in abundance if the branches are attached to the vine, and
the vine is cared for through watering and pruning. Fruit does not appear
unless the branch is attached, “in” the vine.
It speaks of our relationship with Jesus. We cannot bear fruit, as we are
told to, unless we are deeply attached, “in”, him. How willing are we to be
dependant upon Jesus? Do we allow ourselves be pruned of unproductive
attitudes and behaviours? Are we prepared to be open to, refine and change
what we do so we can bear more fruit?