(Plugging in to the source of spiritual nourishment)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NLT)
By Fr. Chris Lee OFR
I must admit that gardening is not my strong suit. In fact, I am often teased by friends and family that I have a “black thumb” of death, rather than a “green thumb” of life, when it comes to plants. Fortunately for me, our Lord is a tremendous gardener! Not only did He plant the garden of all gardens (Eden, Genesis 2:8-9) but continues even today to be the very source of all living things.
Those, on the other hand, who are skilled in gardening and growing plants (especially those with vines) can appreciate Jesus’ metaphor of the vine and its branches. Since Jesus is the “vine” the source of all nourishment, we who are the “branches” must be connected and stay connected to Him. If we are plugged in to Jesus, we will produce “much fruit”. In Galatians 5:22-23, St. Paul describes the kind of fruit we will produce. He says we will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These fruits are to be the common characteristics of the Christian life. They are the “green thumb” of growth and beauty. The only way we can produce them is to stay in relationship with Jesus.
In our core verse, Jesus warns that being disconnected from Him will fail to produce this beautiful fruit in our lives when He said, “apart from me you can do nothing”. (John 15:5b, NLT) St. Paul warns in Galatians 5:19-21 that walking in sinful nature leads to a life characterized by sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, and wild partying. These characteristics are weeds, spoiled vegetation, and infestation to the beautiful garden of our lives. St Paul even goes so far as to warn that, “anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21b, NLT) This is the equivalent of the “black thumb” of death.
Our Lord doesn’t want any of us to wither away and die. He wants us to repent and turn to Him for life. In 2 Peter 3:9b it says, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT) As “branches”, let’s turn away from the weeds and rotten produce, and get plugged or re-plugged back in to Jesus the Vine. This will produce “much fruit” and bring glory to God. After all, it was Jesus said, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:8, NLT)