Scripture: Lectionary #54. Fifth Sun. after Easter (B). Acts 9:26-31.
Psalm 22:26-126.96.36.199-32. I John 3:18-24. John 15:1-8
In John the pronoun “I” is used the most in the New Testament. The
majority of its uses are applied to Jesus in this Fourth Gospel. When
it is used with the verb “to be” it becomes emphatic in identifying
who Jesus considers himself to be. It is then the divine that is
emphasized in him who is the way, the truth, and the life. This Sunday
we learn of another “I AM” or the divine appellation “I am the vine…”.
We learn that the statement is a Christological one and is identified
as such by the theologians and exegetes as the “Ego Eimi”
pronouncements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Using the words that follow this emphatic I statement we discover that Jesus is all to all
through the use of symbols that speak to each one of us in a way that
attracts us to believe in him whether he is the Way, the Truth, the
Life, the Good Shepherd, the Light or as we hear today Jesus tells us,
“I Am the Vine.”
The image leads us to see our relationship to Jesus as most intimate
like a branch flowing with the life of the vine. We easily see in the
image a Paschal symbolism since the fruit of the vine is wine. In this
Gospel this is always a messianic symbol connected to Jesus mysteries
of his sufferings, death, and resurrection. The image is a strong one
since it means an intimate connection with the Lord in the very life
he gives us the branches from himself the vine.
How do we come to realize we are similar to branches attached to the
vine that is Jesus? The reading from I John tells us that we are such
by observing the commandments God gives us especially in the writings
of John. The Evangelist tells us, “His commandment is this: we are to
believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and are to love one
another as he commanded us.” This is how we remain him as branches
united to the vine.
“Here (in our being the branches) Jesus, the Father’s perfect
planting, is the total Christ, one with his disciples. Head of his
Body, or the Body itself. To be in him is basic for Christian life and
for fruitfulness in that love of each other which is the essence of
discipleship.” (Dom Ralph Russell).