Sunday, April 29, 2018

John 15:1   “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
Stacks Image 63

Like all the speeches in this Gospel, this is a meditation on the presence of the Risen Lord to believers, written after the resurrection and thus not really a report of Jesus’ actual words. Nevertheless, it is a meditation on images Jesus did himself use, such as the parable of the vineyard, with echoes of other passages from the Old Testament. This passage indeed sounds a bit like a parable but is really a symbolic allegory, wherein each element can be “decoded” for meaning. This reflection is found in the Farewell Dis- course of the Fourth Gospel and is best understood within that special context.

The common situation in farewell speeches is that of a prominent person who gathers his followers (children, disciples, or the entire nation of Israel) just before his death or departure to give them final instructions which will help them after he is gone.


"Apart from me you can do nothing". Are not these words exposing the real root of the crisis in our Christianity? Do they not lay bare the flaw in the foundation that splits it open like no other?…

Being a Christian today requires a vital experience of Jesus Christ, an inner knowledge of his person, and a passion for his project to an extent that was not required of a practicing member in a society that was dominated by Christianity. If we do not learn to live in close and intense contact with Jesus, the decline in our Christianity can become a terminal sickness.

In this situation it is crucial to remain in him, to focus all our attention on the gospel; to nurture vital contact with him in all our groups, networks, communities and parishes; and not to deviate from his project.

Jose A.Pagola: following in the footsteps of Jesus - Year B


Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches to illustrate the ideal of our relationship with him. The image is at once attractive, intriguing, enigmatic and puzzling. How can we remain in him? What exactly does it mean? How can we translate that into the way we live?

In the second reading we get one way of interpreting this image. St John says “His [God’s] commandments are these:that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christand that we love one another as he told us to.”

When we believe in Jesus and love one another we are living out Jesus’ vision of life for our own benefit and the good of others. Elsewhere Jesus says “those who believe in me will draw life from me”. True faith changes us. It gives us vitality and energy. It brings us alive. But for faith to have that effect, it is important that we not only hear what Jesus says, but that we actually believe him and follow his example.

The God of Jesus was not one to be feared, but a loving Father (Abba). Jesus lived with total trust in God. If we believe Jesus, then we make his image of God our own and live our lives trusting in God. That’s a tremendous source of confidence in difficult times, as Pope Francis reminded us in his letter THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL: “With a tenderness that never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he [the Lord] makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and start anew.” (3)

Those who “remain in Jesus” also view others, and the world, as Jesus did. He dedicated his life to working for what he called the Reign of God, a campaign to make the world a better place. He spent his life for others, teaching them and doing whatever he could to alleviate suffering wherever he encountered it. When we believe in Jesus, we take on his project as our own and seek to make compassion for others the hallmark of our own lives, within the limits of what is possible for us.

Faith and love bring out the best in us. To quote Pope Francis again: “Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being.” (8)