The true vine that feeds us

28 April 2024 5th Sunday Easter Year B

In these weeks after Easter and before the feasts of Ascension and Pentecost, our gospel readings come from Jesus’ farewell discourses in the Gospel of John. These are the teachings Jesus shared with his disciples in that precious time just before his arrest and crucifixion.


His teachings offered solace to his disciples who were soon to endure his passion and death. We now read and ponder them in the light of his resurrection and Ascension. They also offer comfort to us in our time and place, as we face life’s challenges and sorrows.


Last week, the gospel recounted Jesus telling the disciples that he is the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep by name, who cares for them and protects them, and whose love and care are so great that he lays down his life for his sheep. This image of the Good Shepherd and his sheep describes a relationship of steadfast love and care.


This week, Jesus describes his relationship to his followers differently, this time in terms of a vine and its branches. This image highlights the intimacy, interconnection, mutuality and reciprocity of the relationship of Jesus to us, of Jesus to the Father, and of Jesus and the Father to us, individually and as a community.


Jesus explains that he is the true vine, the Father is the vine grower, and we are the branches. The image reminds us that we, just like the vine and its branches, rely on each other in order to bear fruit.


But, most important of all, Jesus urges us: “Abide in me as I abide in you.” To abide means to remain, to stay, to dwell, to make a home in, to endure, and to hold fast. This notion of ‘abiding’ is of utmost importance in John’s Gospel. (Even in today’s short reading this word, abide, occurs 8 times.)


Jesus is very clear: this abiding is essential and core to our relationship with him. It is this abiding in him and he in us that will result in great fruitfulness. The fruits will be life-giving fruits, internal as well as external, for us personally and for the community. They will be peace, freedom, justice, joy, and the flourishing of creation.


What then is the call and the challenge for us? It is to nurture our relationship with Jesus. This is the discipleship to which he calls us: it is abiding in him, keeping company with him, living in daily conversation with him. We are called to a life-long process of entering ever more deeply into this relationship with him, learning to abide in his love, and learning to love one another as God has loved us. It is learning to live like that every day!


And, in the process, we will gradually come to better see the world, ourselves, other people, and whatever situations we face with our hearts and minds attuned to his.


Anne Hunt

© Majellan Media 2024

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