We Are The “Branches” Of The Vine

Weekly Missionary Reflection
Easter Week V, 02 May 2021

Acts 9:26-31; Ps. 22:26b-27,28,30,31-32; 1John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8

Last Sunday’s reflection was about the shepherd and his flock. This week the metaphor of vine and its branches are used. We move from the world of livestock to that of agriculture. The daily life context is maintained. Even in John’s gospel, which is often ‘high in theology’, the nuance of concrete and daily preaching of Jesus is maintained. Through a metaphor, Jesus tried to introduce Himself, reveal His Father and affirm our identity.

First, Jesus presented His Father as a farmer. It is uncommon that God is introduced as a vinegrower. By this metaphor, it is affirmed that the Father is the only Owner of the vine and its branches. So He will remove branches that do not bear fruit. He will judge and punish His Son’s followers who leave the church (v. 6). The Father also prunes the branches that bear fruit, to make them bear more fruit (v. 2). The Father wants us to be superior, high qualified followers of His Son and to maximize all of our potentialities. Because, if we, the followers of His Son, “bear much fruit” (vv. 2 and 8), we participate in the Son’s mission to glorify the Father.

Second, Jesus introduced Himself as the true vine. As usual, Jesus used a typical formula for the scene of God’s revelation in the OT, “I am …”. The people of Israel in the OT are often compared to a vineyard or vine that do not bear fruit (compare Hos. 10:1; Jer. 6:9; Ezek. 15, etc.). Jesus affirms that He is the “true” vine. It means He and His disciples are the true people of Israel, the Church that bears fruit. Jesus also affirms that He “abides in” us, His disciples. The vine guarantees the life of its branches. Jesus is the source of His follower’s life. He gives life and future, and feeds all the followers who are united with Him. As Jesus gives us divine life, we can live in prosperity and bear much fruit.

Third, Jesus introduces our identity as His followers. We should become branches that are united to Him as the Vine (“abide in me”). Jesus affirms our deepest identity as His followers. There are at least three main characteristics of a branch. First, a branch cannot decide its own life, it depends completely on the vine. Our life and identity are not in our hands, but all depend on Jesus, the Vine. Second, the branches are identical to the vine. This means that a vine must produce grape branches too, not orange or mango twigs. The technique of grafting was not known at that time. Thus, a relationship with Jesus guarantees our true identity. Without a deep relationship with Him, we are just parasites or “foreign” branches. Third, although being totally dependant on the vine, it is only the branch that produce grape, not the vine. It means that Jesus “needs” us to bear and show His fruits to this world. He needs our hands and feet to pass on His divine love and life to the world.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:
The Finance: Let us pray for those who are working in Finance Dept. in order to cooperate with the government to manage the finance and protect the people from danger. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:
For labors: May the government and entrepreneurs find a way to overcome the crisis of unemployment and do their best to prevent layoff. We pray…

Special Intention for the year of St. Joseph:
Please send St. Joseph as the patron saint for our labors, so they can perform their task in the family and society, and find happiness in their job. We pray…

Amen

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