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If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. ~ John 15:7–8 

Last summer, I was on a crowded train and had the opportunity (if that’s the word) to overhear a young man in his 20s loudly and confidently decrying how lazy everyone had become. Speaking to his girlfriend, he even denounced people who took a week off work due to illness and declared that not only had he never done so but also his father hadn’t done so either. He declared that top achievers, outperformers and successful people don’t take time off.

At this point, I began desperately searching for my headphones, open windows, available exits—anything to get away from his bravado.

I mention all this because the idolization of productivity is all around us. Yet the Gospel points us in a very different direction in defining fruitfulness. In today’s readings, Jesus offers beautiful organic imagery. He describes himself as the “true vine” and God as “the vine grower,” and he says that those who “abide” in God’s love bear much fruit.

The active verb here is to “abide” in God. It isn’t to achieve in God. It isn’t to outperform or level up to God. Heck, it isn’t even to succeed in God. All Jesus asks today is that we abide and be like trees planted by streams of water, trusting that we will yield fruit in due season.

Today’s readings

Amidst so much talk about efficiency and productivity, what does it mean to abide and bear fruit in God’s time?

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