From Jesus’ parable of the Vine and the Branches, one thing should remain very clear: the Father as Vinedresser sooner or later is going to cut into all the branches—the withered ones to cut them away and burn them, the fertile ones to prune them so that they bear still more fruit. In other words, none of us, Jesus’ disciples, is going to escape this necessary and often painful process of purification in view of a more abundant harvest. True love always bears fruit because love is for giving away, and true love is the only thing God ultimately cares about.
I don’t suppose it feels very good to be a branch and to be cut into, for whatever purpose! And yet God’s love for us must often take precisely this form, performing on us a painful operation in order to heal, purify and sanctify us, so that through us the fruits of God’s love may then be borne into our hungry world.
We are sentient, soul-endowed branches on Christ the Vine. As such we are not fated to be either sterile or fertile irreversibly. We can actually choose whether we are going to be fruitless or bear much fruit. If this were not so, would Jesus be telling us this parable today? It seems to me it is nothing but a generous invitation for us to become fruitful as a result of cultivating a most intimate and synergetic union with himself. Our fruitfulness depends on the extent of our surrender to divine grace, which is continually trying to surge up within us like the life-bearing juices of a vine.
Detail of an initial from an ancient Cistercian manuscript. Today's homily by Father Simeon.