Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. . . . I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 14:27, 15:1-22)
St Nikolai Velimirovich comments:
The vine is a symbol of Christ, the branches are symbols of his followers. “’I am the vine, You are the branches,’ saith the Lord.” The vine is partially visible and partially invisible. Thus the Son of God is partially known and partially unknown. The branches without the vine can neither grow nor bring forth fruit. Therefore, He also said, ‘without me ye can do nothing.’ Good men abide in Christ just as the good branches abide in the vine; they take the life giving sap from Christ, they feed on Him, and consequently they bring forth good fruit, just as good branches do from the vine. Evil men, on the contrary, cut themselves off from Christ, and therefore become dry and fruitless like cut branches. The first will be kept as fruitful branches and the second will be cast into the fire. (THE UNIVERSE AS SYMBOLS & SIGNS, pp 28-29)
Spiritually our goal is to remain united to Christ who is the true vine – we are his branches as long as we remain united to Him. It is the branches that bear fruit when nurtured from the vine. The vine itself does not bear fruit, so we see again the nature of synergy between Christ and His followers. There is an interdependency with Christ relying on us to carry out His will by obediently following His commandments to love God and love neighbor. The unity of Christians is to be maintained through the members maintaining their unity with Christ. Christ is the unifying factor, not popes, bishops, liturgical customs, piety, rules or regulations. Christ came to save everyone – we all are sinners – not just those who will conform to monolithic practices.
Note in Christ’s words that God the Father prunes the branches that bear fruit. The fruitless branches are completely cut off. The fruitful branches are also cut (pruned) but it is done to make the branches healthier and even more fruitful. A good horticulturalist knows both the proper time to prune and how much needs to be cut away for the plant to prosper. Pruning thus is based in wisdom. We may wonder sometimes why some things happen in our lives that challenge or change us or even awaken us to what is happening. These all could be God pruning us in God’s wisdom to help us become the capable and flourishing parts of His garden (Paradise) that produce abundant life.