Apart from me, you can do nothing.
If we try to build our foundation on sand, on ourselves or the things of this world, we will eventually, even if it takes years and years, be tragically devastated.
However, if we remain in Jesus, the vine, we have nothing to fear. If our life is founded upon the Paschal Mystery, on the Golden Rule of loving and giving that God poured into every corner of this universe, then we will have much life.
The image of the Vine reveals to us the three main aspects of this “rule” of life that we see most perfectly in Christ: we draw life from God, we give it away, and through us he bears fruit and gives new life.
But this has to be something real, something concrete. As our second reading from 1st John reminds us, love us more than mere words falling off our lips; love is shown in deed and in truth. Saint Paul, in today's first reading, had not yet proven this to the Church – all they knew is that he was a crazy persecutor of Christians. This is why they are at first skeptical of him and needed the testimony of Barnabas to the manifest actions of Paul, to how he “spoke out boldly” for Christ to the Church. Since fruit cannot be faked (Our Lord says, “a tree is known by its fruit), Paul showed by his actions that he was not just “talking the talk,” but that he indeed was attached to Christ, the Vine.
The sap, the life of the branch, comes from the vine, from the Lord through our prayer and the sacraments of the Church. The sap's life-giving power is meant to be shared, not absorbed selfishly. If no fruits are found, the sap will be cut-off and the branch dried up. We have to bear fruit! This is described in the CCC par. 2074: The fruit referred to in this saying is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, partake of his mysteries, and keep his commandments, the Savior himself comes to love, in us, his Father and his brethren, our Father and our brethren. His person becomes, through the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our activity.
So okay. Fruit of holiness: what does it look like? Well, let's first look at the saints. Their lives are filled with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They bore abundant fruit, but not as some would presume, by radical things done once and for all. No, it was by a bunch of small bits of fruit borne over a long period of time, and all those little droplets of love and good works eventually became a tidal wave of great power. So we ourselves should work on little things consistently, perfecting them, never becoming complacent.
Lastly, and here's today's answer: holiness is seen in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. As I run down this list, I invite you to pick one that sticks out to you and focus on developing it, improving it, perfecting it. Remember, bearing fruit proves you are attached to the vine.
These twelve fruits can be found in CCC 1832: “charity, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.”
May Christ, the Vine, strengthen us in this Eucharist to bear abundant fruit in our life.