“I am the vine you are the branches.”.
Life is full of surprises. Nobody today would doubt that. Some are good others are tragic and many are in between. When I was a child in school, I learnt this passage off by heart and when I come upon it during the year, I greet it with a smile as I remember my carefree secondary school years. I am not sure at what point I began to think of it as harsh.
“I am the true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch that bears no fruit he cuts away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more” (John 15, 1-2).
Could this be the loving God in whom I was beginning to think of ‘making my home?’ – A God of unconditional love. I managed to put this behind me maybe as a result of witnessing my mother ‘s pruning of plants which then went on to flourish beautifully. I also remembered the expression ‘you have to be cruel to be kind.’
Image my surprise when lately I read about the work of a vinedresser in detail. Maybe he doesn’t ‘cut away’ the branches that are not fruit-bearing. I found out too that the words to ‘cut away’ are not well translated. In Greek they are more like ‘to lift up’. Apparently, vines that are left unattended will grow along the ground and they send little roots down into the soil rather than produce fruit. They must be ‘lifted up’ so that they can draw nutrients from the vine. The branch is ‘lifted up’ and supported in the air with a trellis so that it draws on the goodness of the vine and produces clusters of sweet grapes. What a beautiful image which matches the loving caring image of God that I had treasured. The image of wood being ‘lifted up’ to bring life is full of paschal meaning.
My latest surprise came when I read in the newspaper that restrictions were to be eased for the ‘doubly vaccinated’. My delight was not related to any particular easing. My joy was in recognising that the new term ‘doubly vaccinated’ was in use and better still it described me! Such joy is short-lived when we see on our television screen heart wrenching images of the people of India and other countries struggling to breathe. My prayer is that they, like the vine trailing in the dust will be ‘lifted up’ and cared for.
Sr. Kathleen Fitzsimons O.P.