St. Svithun menighet
Refelction for Sunday
Fifth Sunday of Easter
On John 15,1-8
Love is a mystery difficult to explain and express and for that reason we need very well-chosen words, comparisons and narratives to make us understand or at least transmit a part of that mystery.
The Kingdom of God, that is to say, the world as God sees it and wants to see, the things of God, Jesus’ life, Christian life, all this has to do with love. That’s why, to talk about these things, Jesus used comparisons, parables, some of them extremely poetic, sometimes dramatic and sometimes funny, but always beautiful, well-done and well thought. Through these comparisons and parables we are able to understand, but above all, we can assume a commitment with what Jesus is saying.
This Sunday’s Gospel is taken from the words Jesus pronounced during the Last Supper. So these are solemn, important and decisive words. During Last Supper, Jesus wanted to talk about the mystery of the Church. That’s why He starts saying: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener”. To talk about the Church Jesus doesn’t allude to what we understand as an organization, buildings or an institution; he doesn’t speak of things, economic resources, specific activities, liturgy, catechesis, or meetings to solve problems; he doesn’t speak of bosses or functions, neither of jobs or responsibilities.
Because Jesus is talking about a very great mystery, Jesus goes to the most essential, to what cannot be ignored. So he says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” It’s as simple and deep as this, at the same time, to be part of the Church. This is the most essential in our Church’s life. All the rest is necessary but not more important than what Jesus says here.
Let’s think about the simple mystery that is enclosed in every tree: a fallen branch, perhaps already absolutely dry. It’s impossible to find life in it. How could it bear leaves or fruits without receiving from the trunk all it needs to do so? It’s simple and mysterious at the same time if we think of it in reference to the Church.
Thus is a Christian: a branch that receives everything from his beloved Jesus. Thus is the Church: Jesus and his people, his dear disciples, all united forever in such a way that “separated” from Jesus, nothing can we do. “Apart from me you can do nothing”. And thus is God Father: so attentive, calm and caring as a good gardener who loves his plants and treats them with his own hands. Beautiful and mysterious: God touches us during our lives with his own hands.
And Jesus says “Remain in me, as I also remain in you”. These words have to been taken seriously: Jesus remains in us; he is united to us, all the time. He doesn’t say something as: “communicate with me a couple times a day”. He’s always united to us.
Jesus proclaimed this comparison or parable during the Last Supper in which for the first time he broke the Eucharistic bread for his disciples: participating in the Eucharist is our way, the way Jesus has indicated, the way Jesus has wanted for us to be united to Him.
Finally, I want to thank our Lord. He could have done things differently. Jesus could “keep distances”. Jesus perfectly could have told us that we are important, but with no need of being close to each one of us. But instead, He wanted to avoid any distance from separating us from Him. Jesus wanted intimacy, so much as the one between the trunk and its branches. Jesus wanted a perfect communication in which we could receive everything from Him, all that’s necessary to make our Christian lives joyful, complete, full of life and through which we could bear much fruit.
Fr. Juan Carlos