The Good News for the day, April 29, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Easter (53)
Jesus says to people inspired by him: “I am a real grapevine, and my Father cultivates it. He prunes every branching in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does produce it, He cuts it carefully so that it bears more fruit. You are already cut back—because of the word that I have been speaking to you. Stay within the vine that is me, as I stay in the vine that is you. The same way a branch cannot bear fruit all on its own—it has to stay part of the grapevine—so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am a vine, you, the branches. Whoever stays in me and I in him will produce much fruit; without me you can’t do anything. Anybody who does not remain in me will get thrown out like a cut off branch and wither away; other people will be gathering them up and throwing them into a bonfire, and they will get burned. If you stay in me, though, and my message stays in you, ask for anything you want—and it will be done for you. It is this way that my Father’s significance expands (“is glorified”)—when you become fruitful—becoming people inspired by me.” (John 15)
It is a curious expression—to “remain in me” until you reflect on the “vine-and-branches.” Jesus says One Life runs you, me and Him. For real. As though we are constantly receiving a blood transfusion. As though your and my Life depends on a flow between you and me and Him. As though there exists—whether you know it or not—a Single Life-force that reaches out into the individual grape—you and me.
If you know something of grapevines—there is one root in each row that extends out in far-distant places on the trellises. That is the image. What is the real thing?
Perhaps, Jesus’s message is really this: We are all connected; we all share the same earth, water, air; we all depend on one another—the least and the most, the best and the worst—the finest and lowest. To live permanently, to live fully, to live with the richness and joy Jesus promises—we need one another and the world around us.
You need to be kind and forgiving; I need to be kind and forgiving. Anything less cuts us off, a dead branch doomed to wither. You and I need to respect each other as parts of One Body (as St. Paul puts it). We are family members. It is a memory, an awakedness, that shapes our every moment—this awareness of our common need to be loved—and to love. That love makes us whole, as we fill one another’s needs. Love, caring, respect for every other human—these make us wholesome; creating a better world, a nobler life; it is the Life—the permanent, boundless Life—of Jesus extending into the present and the future. In other words, the more we are patient and forgiving, humble and of service, the more we are immersed in the Life which destroys death, grief, and unhappiness. THAT is the Good News.