This Sunday Jesus gives us another extended image to help us understand our relationship with God and our purpose as God's people.
He is the vine. We are the branches. He prunes us by his word to help us grow in the right way and produce the choicest fruit. That fruit is always a fresh incarnate expression of God's love for the world. Throughout the passage Jesus the "you" to whom and about whom Jesus speaks is plural. No one can be a Christian alone. And none of the pruning or the flourishing is for the sake of a single individual. It is for the health of the Vine which brings life and beauty and fruitfulness to the world.
In our common life the process of flourishing requires prioritizing and choosing. Jesus promises that if his words abide in us, he will prune from us those choices that would draw us away from his life and love, and whatever we ask we will receive. If we let go of his word, we will become as dead branches.
He says these things to us as he prepares for the cross as a reminder and an encouragement. That when the Vine Dresser prunes it is for the flourishing of the whole Vine. And the Vine Dresser-God is never more careful and thoughtful for the whole than when he stands close to us with the knife.