‘My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’
This statement completes the purpose of Jesus’ mission on this earth. The disciples are encouraged to bear fruit through their lives. The Father is glorified when Jesus’ disciples are fully alive by bearing abundant fruit and by further evolving in their discipleship. Just like the Father, the disciples must bring life in the world. Hence, discipleship is not a static way of life, but rather, it is constantly growing and evolving – a dynamic way of life.
Today’s Gospel passage is part of Jesus’ final teaching to His disciples. After the last supper, when He washed their feet, Jesus sat down with His disciples to give them His parting advice. First, He makes sure that His disciples understand that He is going to His Father to prepare a place for them. Secondly, He wants his disciples to know that He and His Father are one. And finally, they must live their lives in constant communion with the Father and the Son and bear fruit.
To bring home His message clearly, Jesus uses the Old Testament imagery of viticulture from Isaiah (5:17). Israel as a nation was regarded as the vine of God. God planted this vine with care that it may produce plenty of fruit. Since Israel failed in its mission, Jesus replaces Israel … now, Jesus is the new vine. It is not the church or any other institute that is God’s vine anymore. It is Jesus Himself that is God’s choicest vine, and we are only His branches.
The emphasis of this parable is on bearing fruit – being fully alive. To be fully alive there is a need of extensive pruning. In the viticultural language it is said ‘the more the pruning, the greater the yielding.’ Hence, Christian faith and charity are not about compromises or allowances. It is not the result of allowing the natural energies and instincts to run riot. It is just about bearing fruit and being regarded as the disciples of Christ.
To bear fruit, Jesus says, we must connect ourselves with Him – “abide with me as I abide in you”. It is a call to make a home in Christ. Making a home in Christ is the prerequisite of fruitfulness. Every branch that is connected to the vine (Christ) will bear fruit. The church and all the disciples of Christ must realize that in isolation, apart from living in Christ, nobody bears fruit. Christ is the source and the summit of our fruitfulness.
– Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD