“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already cleansed because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
The true vine is a picture of a living thing which connects to even more life—to the source of life. What connects us to life? What makes us feel most alive? If we look to children, the answer for them is: everything! They love all of life, all of what it offers them. Small children love it without reservation, and take whatever they can into their mouths. They want to connect with life in their inmost being!
As we grow up, we come to ourselves as we experience disappointments, losses, suffer pain, and bear death. This belongs to our path on earth—this schooling through pain that brings us to ourselves, connects us to our self. But this can go too far. The winter can be so very long– we get cabin fever stuck inside with ourselves. Life can feel far away from us. We can feel totally cut off from life and love, disconnected.
Easter offers us a return to life. During Passiontide, we have walked with Christ as he goes to his death on the cross. We could also say—we have walked with Christ as he walked with us to the cross. At Easter, we are released from the permanency of this death. The grave can become an altar at which we offer ourselves to be transformed, and seek renewal.
We can find a new lease on life. The soul reconnected feels joy. Easter is the festival of joy. This is more than mere happiness or pleasure, though it encompasses both. Joy belongs to those who walk through death to a new connectedness, and a new life.When we feel joy, we have so much to offer.
At Easter, in the upswing of joy, Christ reminds us in this reading from John 15 of the power of staying connected to our true source of life, to the divine. The word he uses repeatedly is ABIDE. Abide in me and I in you, as I abide in the Father. Let my Word abide in you. To abide is not only to stay or remain, but to make one’s abode within him. To make one’s dwelling, one’s home within his life, within his joy, within God.
This is an act which we practice in praying, in turning to the spirit, in seeking everywhere in life for the source of life, and of becoming. In turning to that which brings joy and by offering ourselves in joy to the world wherever and whenever we can.