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If I were to show you these grapes and then this bottle of wine, you would understand clearly what was in front of you, something you could eat and drink.  Although you, like me, may never have harvested grapes, you would understand exactly how grapes came to grow to full fruitfulness – that you need roots, that you need the nourishment through the trunk, that there needs to be a feeding process so that eventually you can have the fruit – in this case, the grapes.  As with other Gospel images, Jesus uses an image that is clearly understood: it was understood by first century Palestine; and it is also understood by you and me in 2018.

 

 

 

When I first prayed this week with this image “I am the Vine, you are Branches”, two things came to mind.  Firstly I thought that God gives US the good bits: we are the fruit, we have all the good and visible signs of God’s presence.  What does this mean?  All God’s love, God’s hope, God’s peace that is seen in the world is seen through OUR words and actions.  We are the vehicles of God’s presence in the world.  Of course, there is, therefore, a key responsibility on US to make sure God’s fruitfulness is shining out to the world.  The second thing that struck about this image of the Vine is that God is the Vine – in other words, God is the trunk and the roots and He provides all the strength, all the growth and all the nourishment. 

 

 

 

Another thing that struck me about today’s Gospel is that, coming from the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel, then it is taking place at the Last Supper.  This is Jesus speaking to his close friends, to his disciples.  He had already washed their feet (chapter 13) and shown them the great example of love.  Now He is encouraging THEM that they are the fruitful branches, that they are united to the Vine and that they, over these last three years in which they have followed Jesus, have already been pruned by God’s Word.  Moreover, Jesus is reminding his disciples that everything they have seen and heard as they have walked with Him is actually God’s Purpose being shown to the world; this isn’t simply some miracle worker come to show some interesting tricks.  This is GOD PRESENT in the world.  The disciples are brought right in to the very presence of God, to the very Mission of God for the world.  They are now sharing in God’s life when they remain close to him.  At the same time, though, I noticed as I imagined this Last Supper conversation that Judas and Peter would have been sitting around that table.  Peter and Judas, examples of people who can be close to Jesus but, at the same time, be weak and vulnerable.  As things were to develop, the other disciples would have understood that the pruning process begun in Jesus’ presence would continue for the rest of their lives, constantly changing for better and for good.

 

 

 

So what does all of this mean for you and for me?  Well, you and I have also been sitting close to Jesus – maybe not at the actual Last Supper – but, through our Baptism, in our private prayers and here in Church we have been sitting listening to Jesus.  He also is telling you that God’s desire is to be present in the world.  That God the Father created the world and then comes to the world day in and day out with a word of love, an action of hope, a gesture of peace.  How does God do that?  He calls you to be his instruments.  God keeps the best bits of his Creative story FOR YOU.  Today Jesus reminds you that YOU ARE THE VINE.  God’s love, God’s peace and God’s hope will be seen in YOU, in YOUR words and actions.  Of course, just like that Last Supper where there sat Peter and Judas, you know your own weakness and sinfulness.  You know you need to be continually pruned by God’s mercy.

 

 

 

What a wonderful story today.  God’s greatest story is going to be told – THROUGH YOU. Remain in Him!

 

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