Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. That we remain in him, and he in us, is what makes us bear much fruit.
In Ps 80, the Shepherd of Israel is asked to bring back his people. This people started out as a vine that God brought out of Egypt and transplanted. And due the care it got, the vine stretched out its branches far and wide.
In Jesus’ farewell as death nears, he is the true vine and the branches are his disciples. The Father is the vine grower that does what has to be done so that the vintage may be good.
There is, then, the hint that Jesus is the new Israel. Those who belong to him make up, with him, the new People of God.
But to belong to Jesus cannot but mean to remain in him. And on this, the Teacher cannot be more clear, simple, and true to life. He says that the branches that do not stay on the vine do not bear fruit. In the same way, Christians who do not remain in Christ are not fruitful.
In fact, we can do nothing without him. That is to say, cut off from him, we die just as the branches that are not on the vine wither. But those that stay on the vine yield their fruit and are full of leaves.
Like branches that are full of fruit and leaves
Christians who remain in Jesus bear fruit. For due to their faith in him, they do the works that he does, and greater ones even (Jn 14, 12). Besides, he appoints them to bear fruit (Jn 15, 16).
Also, as they remain in the Teacher, the disciples stay lively, cheerful and hearty, rather than halfhearted, lukewarm, and just OK. They are so since his words are Spirit and life; he has the words of eternal life (Jn 6, 63. 68).
And Jesus’ sap runs through such disciples. Due to it, they are lively; he is their driving force and reason to live. He is their all (SV.EN V:537). He is the “Rule of the Mission” (SV.EN XII:110). The beginning, too, the center and the end of who they are, and what they have and do.
The same sap makes the disciples think, feel, head toward the same direction as Jesus. That is why they pass up no chance to heal, preach, encourage —as is true of Barnabas (Acts 4, 36)— and do good. And, of course, they love not in word but in deed. Hence, more important to them than the Sabbath are persons. And they are not just about principles but also people. Yes, “charity is above all rules” (SV.EN X:478).
Lord Jesus, grant that we remain in you as fruitful and leafy branches on the vine. Make our communion lead us to love to the end like you. Thus, we shall be the people we ask God to bring back.
2 May 2021
Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)
Acts 9, 26-31; 1 Jn 3, 18-24; Jn 15, 1-8