The metaphor of the vine and the branches that is used in today’s Gospel passage is quite strong. There are many elements to it, but for today let us break it down to three points:
Life – In order to have the inner peace that we are looking for; in order to have that joy that wells up from the depth of our being and fills us from our head to our toes, we must learn to abide in God. The branches must abide in the vine, the two have one life, i.e. the Life of the Holy Spirit that we call Grace. If our prayer life dries out and we fall into grave sin His life no longer dwells in us. We are then as dead branches, cast out and ultimately burned.
How do we dwell in Him? Prayer! Let the Word of God penetrate into your mind and heart! Come to adoration regularly! Pray the Rosary! Go to Confession! And above all, receive Communion.
Fruit – Only a plant that is dying does not bear fruit. Everything that is alive bears fruit in some way or another. If we dwell in God and God dwells in us, then it will show. It should show from the head to the toes. Note that fruits are different than products. Fruits are not manufactured, they are not artificial. Fruits are born from life when it is lived to the full. A joyful Catholic attracts many to believe because his/her joy radiates to everyone around. How do we bear fruit? Do we consciously or subconsciously hide our faith from people around us, or conversely, do we force it upon our neighbour as if it is artificially produced? If we should truly love God and dwell in Him, we should naturally make the sign of the Cross in public or invite a friend to pray or to come to Church.
Pruning – As anyone who works in a vineyard knows, every year a vine is radically cut or pruned. It has to suffer, if it suffers it struggles to be alive, and if it struggles or fights for life, then it bears many more grapes. Like this, we all suffer, many things come up in our life that cause greater suffering. But do we hope, do we fight to be alive? Do we grow in a loving desire through the pain? Is our Hope and Love stronger than the evil which surrounds us? Yes, if we dwell in Christ, His grace is enough. He will not give us trials that we cannot surpass.