Wednesday, May 1, 2013
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God, loving Father,
you have given us your Son Jesus Christ
as the true vine of life
and our source of strength.
Help us to live his life
as living branches attached to the vine,
and to bear plenty of fruit
of justice, goodness and love.
Let our union with him become visible
in our openness to one another
and in our unity as brothers and sisters,
that he may be visibly present among us
now and for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - John 15,1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more. You are clean already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch -- and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it. It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit and be my disciples.
• Chapters 15 to 17 of the Gospel of John present to us the diverse teachings of Jesus which the Evangelist has put together and placed in the friendly and fraternal context of the last encounter of Jesus with his disciples:
Jn 15, 1-17: Reflections around the parable of the vine.
Jn 15, 18 to 16, 4a: Advice of how to behave if we are persecuted.
Jn 16, 4b-15: Promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jn 16, 16-33: Reflections on the farewell and the return of Jesus.
Jn 17, 1-26: The Testament of Jesus in the form of a prayer.
• The Gospels of today and of tomorrow present part of the reflection of Jesus around the parable of the vine. To understand well all the significance of this parable, it is important to study well the words used by Jesus. And it is also important to observe closely a vine or any other plant to see how it grows and how it becomes united to the trunk and the branches, and how the fruit springs from the trunk and the branches.
• John 15, 1-2: Jesus presents the comparison of the vine. In the Old Testament the image of the vine indicated the People of Israel (Is 5, 1-2). The people were like a vine that God planted with great tenderness on the hills of Palestine (Ps 80, 9-12). But the vine does not correspond to that which God expected. Instead of producing good grapes it produces sour fruit which is good for nothing (Is 5, 3-4). Jesus is the new vine, the true vine. In one phrase alone he gives us the comparison. He says: “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.” Pruning is painful, but it is necessary. It purifies the vine, and thus it grows and bears more fruit.
• John 15, 3-6: Jesus explains and applies the parable. The disciples are already purified. They have already been pruned by the word that they heard from Jesus. Up until today, God does the pruning in us through his Word which comes to us from the Bible and from many other means. Jesus extends the parable and says: “I am the vine, you are the branches!” It is not a question of two different things: on one side the vine and on the other the branches. No! The vine does not exist without the branches. We are part of Jesus. Jesus is the whole. In order that a branch can produce fruit, it has to be united to the vine. It is only in this way that it can receive the sap. “Without me you can do nothing!” The branch that does not bear fruit will be cut down. It dries up and it is ready to be burnt. It is good for nothing, not even for wood!
• John 15, 7-8: Remain in my love. Our model is that which Jesus himself lives in his relationship with the Father. He says: “As the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Remain in my love!” He insists in saying that we must remain in him and that his words should remain in us. And he even says: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it!” Because what the Father wants the most is that we become disciples of Jesus and, thus, that we bear much fruit.
4) Personal questions
• Which has been the different pruning or the difficult moments in my life which have helped me to grow? Which has been the pruning or the difficult moments that we have had in our community and which have helped us to grow?
• What keeps the life united and alive, capable of bearing fruit, is the sap which goes through it. Which is the sap which goes through our community and which keeps it alive, capable of bearing fruit?
5) Concluding Prayer
Sing a new song to Yahweh!
Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!
Sing to Yahweh, bless his name!
Proclaim his salvation day after day. (Ps 96,1-2)