John´s Gospel: Chapter 15: verses 1-8;
In the short passage of today´s Gospel we are given a simple but very powerful image. Jesus is “the true vine”, full of life; and the disciples are “the branches” who share the same sap that circulates in Jesus. The Father is the “vine dresser” who takes care personally of the vineyard so that it produces a lot of fruit.
In Argentina we see vines very frequently – in a neighbour´s house or in vineyards where rows and rows are cultivated with extreme care, pruned and watered. The grapes are so rich and varied depending on the soil, sun, and care given by the vine dresser who makes them into delicious red or white wine. The whole process of cultivating grapes and wine production takes a lot of time and most families in different provinces produce their own brand and flavours.
The problem in today´s reading is that there are some dry branches through whom the sap of Jesus doesn´t circulate; disciples who don´t produce fruit because the Spirit of the Resurrected Christ can´t flow through their veins because of their separation from Jesus.
Then John makes an intense affirmation; “As the branch cannot bear fruit if it doesn´t remain on the vine… neither can you unless you remain in me… for without me you can do nothing“ His favorite verb, “remain“ or “stay” is mentioned seven times possibly to impress on us by repetition the huge need we have to keep an interior closeness to Him. After all He is so close to us as to be one with us. Jesus is conscious of being one with His Father and His disciples and He wants His disciples to have this same awareness.
The words of Jesus and the image of the vine point out a reality. We are not separated, we are always – in and always – with. Vine and branches are not two independent entities, they are one.
That being the case, we should remain close to Jesus, not wander away or stray off as sometimes happens. The gift of wanting and willing to become more conscious of our inner self where this oneness already exists is surely the special grace of this Resurrection season. To remain in Him without distance or separation.
We are enabled and invited to remain in Him as we listen to and read this Word. The practice of quieting body and mind, formal or informal meditation helps us to have a more vital experience of Jesus, to know more interiorly His person and catch some of His passion for God´s plan.
As 29th April is also the feast of our St. Catherine, we remember that beautiful picture of her walking with the Lord, reading the Divine Office, and sensing Him there beside her, so close as to feel a union of mind and heart.
Through Catherine´s intercession, may we be helped to remain in Jesus and live out of a more immediate and passionate contact with Him, animated by His spirit and a passion for a more human world.
Sr. Joan O’Shanahan