Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”

There is so much in just this one sentence.

Jesus is the true vine.  He says this to draw the contrast with all the Old Testament passages which see Israel as the vine.  Isaiah 5’s story of how the vines yield only wild grapes might be the most famous passage, but there are also passages in Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 19:10–14, and Psalm 80:18–19 that see Israel as the vine.  This all would be well known to a first century Jew. 

Jesus points instead to himself as the vine.  He is our link to life.  He is our mediator with the Father.  In him, humanity and divinity touch.  If God neglected us for even a moment, we would perish.  But, joined to the vine, we have life.  If we choose to separate ourselves from God, we forfeit the promise of eternal life.  We have life through our connection to the vine. 

Jesus is the vine, but the Father is the vine grower.  What Jesus does, he does to fulfill the Father’s plan.  He does so in obedience to the Father’s plan.  Jesus and the Father are one in that they share the same divine nature.  They also share the same will.  There is nothing that the Father wants that the Son does not also want (and vice versa).  Just as the vine grower maps out his vineyard, the Father has a plan for all creation. 

The vine and the vine grower are connected in a special way.  Jesus and the Father share a communion of love in the Spirit.  Because we are connected to Jesus, we can share in this communion of love.  That is what we are promised as the fulfillment of our very creation. 

Jesus is also the head of the Church.  We cannot survive as Church if we separate ourselves from Jesus Christ.  When our experience of Church becomes about us rather than about our being joined to Christ and offering worship and prayer to the Father through the Spirit, we die.  Of course, it goes without saying that we also bear no fruit.  A wealth of good vocations is a sign of spiritual health for a parish.  It cannot happen when we are separated from the vine.  It cannot happen when we make ourselves the focus of the Church.  We are called to celebrate divine mysteries and not to celebrate ourselves.  If we have an improper orientation, we bear no fruit.

How do I make sure that I remain connected to the vine?  How do I contribute to the right orientation of myself and others within my parish?