The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
May 2, 2021 – Fifth Sunday of Easter - John 15:1-8
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Hardly any image is more familiar to Christians than Jesus’s use of the vine and the branches. Unfortunately, most of us are not caretakers of a vineyard, so the full impact of that image may be lost on us. So, let’s reflect a little on the art of growing good grapes, especially those used in the production of wine. We begin with recalling the importance of wine in the cultures of the Middle East during the time of Jesus.
Most of us pay little attention to what we drink throughout the day. There’s ample safe water in our taps, various prepared drinks in our refrigerators and abundant choices of coffees or teas in our cupboards. Rarely do we worry about thirst, unless we simply forget to drink adequate fluids throughout the day.
Historians remind us that in earlier societies, like those that Jesus lived in, sufficiently safe drinking water was often unavailable. So, there was a need for fluids that allowed one to be healthy, and even better, that tasted good, and even more, left one feeling good. Thus, many ancient cultures developed drinks like wine for that purpose.
Gradually, the art of growing productive grape vines was developed and valued. Vines and their branches were carefully tended and cared for. So, when Jesus described his relationship to his followers as being like a vine and its branches, they knowingly knew exactly what he referred to. Good vines, and the connection with their branches, were necessary to produce satisfying wine.
After his resurrection to new life, Jesus wanted his followers (including us!) to stay connected to him. It remained of vital importance. Life created directly by God flowed to them through Jesus. St. Paul would say that we were members of the body of Christ. Parts of the whole. This was true even if we were unaware of it. But it is so much better if we are.
At times, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we might have moments when we feel very alone and isolated. But we never are when it comes to our relationship with God, the source of all the good that is. As branches, we continuously draw life from the vine who is the Lord and Giver of all life, Jesus Christ. Let’s all stay connected in thought and prayer to the one who gave his life for us, and continues to do so with each breath we take.
©David M. Thomas, PhD