Homily May 3, 2015 %th Sunday of Easter
Today’s gospel from John is from Holy Thursday and the last supper. In John’s narrative, Jesus has discussed his betrayal, washed his disciples’ feet, talks of his departure and his return to his father. He also assures them he will return to them. As a discourse, it is significant that Jesus began it with the words “I Am”. Seven times he used that phrase in John, but what is significant is that it is from the old testament and the phrase God used to identify himself to the Hebrews. It was a phrase used to identify God to avoid using a name for him. Clearly Jesus was identifying himself and his mission as being from God. The vine and the branches was an understandable way for the disciples to know that the relationship was one where Christ continued to be a part of them and of all the works that they would do. Bearing fruit to their work was important and Jesus himself would tend to the vine getting rid of dead branches and pruning the vine so that it would grow and produce more fruit. The image of the vine emphasizes our connectivity and Jesus presence within us. We are a presence in the world seeking to serve others and bring them to Christ. As a vine is a livimg growing organism, so is the church. It is not something static, something like a picture on a wall but a liviing growing organism. Many figures come out of this story, the vine grower, pruning, the idea of renewal, Chist’s presence in his Word, and in his church, and most importantly our attachment to Christ.
Being city dwellers and not all that familiar with farming and vines and such, oftentimes we don’t fully comprehend the richness of the stories and parables of Jesus. But his life and message present to us and continuing on after so many years brings us a faith that gives an insight from our own experience and time, for Christ’s presence is with us now and He and his Spirit act within us today. His life, his forgiveness remains constant and is always with us. As long an we remain faithful and part of the connectivity of his church, we remain in him and he in us. Let us love and serve one another so we can serve him.