Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that he is the vine and we are the branches who must remain in him. If we ourselves do not participate in who Jesus was, we miss the spiritual power that he meant to unleash.
If John’s Gospel is any indication, Jesus does not want worshipers but followers, or better, participants: “I am the vine, you are the branches; live on in me; my body is real food and my blood real drink; the one who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
The beautifully organic images that John presents are meant, it seems to me, to communicate the life-changing power of the Incarnation: the Logos became flesh, our flesh, so that we might allow the divine energy to come to birth in us.
Much of this is summed up in the oft-repeated patristic adage that God became human that humans might become God. Many of our great theologians and spiritual masters speak unselfconsciously of “divinization”—that is to say, a sharing in the symbiosis that is the Incarnation—as the proper goal of human life.