May 14, 2006 - Year B - Easter 5

John  15:1-8

 1 I am the true vine and my Father is the vine­grower. If any of my branches doesn’t bear fruit, he breaks it off; and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit.

You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you; live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you if you don’t remain in me.

I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away as they do with branches and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned.

If you remain in me and my words in you, you may ask whatever you want and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit: it is then that you become my disciples.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

1 In this second farewell discourse, Jesus invites us to remain steadfast in the midst of the world. The discourse is divided into four parts:

– the parable of the vine: I have sent you to produce fruits.

– the world will hate you.

– the work of the Holy Spirit.

– in a little while you will see me again.

First, the parable of the vine. Jesus uses an image from the Bible, but he changes the original meaning, as he did before when speaking of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1). The vine represents the people of Israel. Planted from selected stock, cared for by the Lord, it should have produced fruits of justice (Mk 12:1).

Now the true Vine has taken root. Christ is the trunk from which the branches sprout, that is to say, all of us who live by him. He is also the entire plant, trunk and branches together: the Christians are really the body of Christ.

The vine was the people of Israel, and what mattered more to them was the collective conduct of the community as one body. What mattered was not the individuals but Israel. Now Jesus does not say: The Christian community is the vine, but: I am the vine. So each of us has to consider how he is joined with Jesus through faith, prayer, and keeping his word. Each one has to bear fruit. Jesus does not specify what these fruits should be: whether service, understanding, action for social justice, or a life silently offered to God. Rather he insists that these fruits should come from the Spirit and bear his proper seal. The success of the Church is not measured by its achievements, but by the progress of those who interiorize Christ’s mystery and share in his cross and resurrection.

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Comments by Wesley

1. Asking for what we want is always dependent upon what we want, what we want to want, what we do our best to avoid wanting. In this regard it is always being tied to both our source of nutrient and intentional and unintentional prunings.

2. What are your minimum daily requirements for nurturing your spirit? This question is not about ritualized responses from Sunday School about prayer and bible reading or Scouts about good deeds. This takes sober reflection.

What manner of prayer (there are O so many prayers and prayer forms)? What bible reading (both in terms of what canon and with what resources)? What good deed (to those who can repay or further your course; to those who are not in a position to benefit you: focus on band-aid presenting issues or heal underlying causes)?

3. We are clean by the creating word/logos in the beginning. A proclamation has been made - you are good. Now to live that, day by day, moment by moment, becomes our journey toward giving evidence that the proclamation was accurate. Will you remain part of the vine of a blessed creation or begin believing, acting as though there were conditions on this goodness?

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