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Friends, in our Gospel passage today, Jesus declares that he is the vine and we are the branches, adding that “anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither.”

It’s odd that we accept this sort of language very easily when it comes to our bodily health, while we balk at it when it comes to spiritual or supernatural health. Doctors and health specialists can say, with a clarity and matter-of-factness, that certain practices and behaviors are absolutely essential if one wants to maintain physical well-being. Unless you eat a balanced, nutritious diet, you will get sick and unfit. If you smoke, drink to excess, and never exercise, your body will become unhealthy, and if these practices (or negligences) become exaggerated, you will die. It just isn’t that complicated.

Jesus is not engaging in charming poetic imagery. He is laying out the spiritual facts. The spirit is a living thing, and it derives its life from the vine. If, therefore, you are separated from the vine, you will die spiritually; you will stop living a supernatural life. And it’s just not that complicated.