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In last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd that we are called and invited to follow. This Sunday, Jesus offers us another powerful image of himself and our relationship with him. In the gospel Jesus proclaims to us, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.’
At the time of Jesus, the vinedresser was a very important and prominent person in the community. They were more than just an ordinary farmer. Grapes were not east to grow and they were more than just an annual or casual crop. The vinedresser sowed the vine and cared for them for decades, if not their whole life. He cared for and tended each vine individually. Each vine was different and needed to be cared for differently. So when Jesus calls God the vinedresser, he is describing God in terms of his relationships and attitude as well as his actions in the lives of his followers and disciples. Just as the vinedresser his totally committed to the vine and the grapes, God is totally committed and dedicated to each of us.
What Jesus the Good Shepherd and Jesus the Vine have in common is intimacy and closeness.Jesus the shepherd is close to us in a very personal and intimate way. He knows us and calls us by our name. It is a very personal relationship. If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, then we are connected to Jesus in the closet and most personal of ways. Just as a branch cannot live, survive or grow without being attached to vine, we cannot grow, mature and develop as disciples without being close to Jesus. We cannot grow and develop in our spiritual life without being closely linked and connected to Jesus. By being intimately linked to Jesus we are nourished and natured by him; we draw life and energy from him.
Being a follower of Jesus is personal but it is never private. Just as we are connected to Jesus, we are also connected to each other as sons and daughters of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus. To be connected to Jesus the vine, means that we are intimately connected to each other. We are called and invited to be rooted in Jesus and connected to each other.
This is what it means to belong to the church; the People of God and the Body of Christ. Each of us belongs to the Body of Christ. Each of us has our own sacred and important part to play in the building of the Body Christ and in the promotion of the Kingdom of God.
By being connected to the vine, the branches produce rich healthy fruit. As followers and disciples we too are called to price fruits of the Kingdom through the quality of our daily lives.
May we stay rooted to Jesus the vine and connected to each other as brother and sisters.
Michael Moore OMI