Easter - Week 05b

Fifth Sunday of Easter - The vine and the branches

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, we read in the Gospel of the Mass. Because of their ingratitude the chosen people had often been compared to a neglected vineyard: Scripture speaks of the ruin and the restoration of the vineyard uprooted from Egypt and planted in a new land; Isaiah expresses God's complaint that his vineyard, after so much care, expecting that it would give grapes, yielded wild grapes. Jesus also uses the image of the vineyard to signify the Jews' rejection of the Messiah and the call of the Gentiles.

But here Our Lord uses the image of the vine and the branches in a totally new sense. Christ is the true vine, which communicates its own life to the branches. It is the life of grace which flows from Christ and is communicated to all the members of his body, which is the Church. Without this new sap, they produce no fruit, because they are dead and withered.

His is a life of such great value that Jesus shed His blood, down to the last drop, so that we could receive it. All his words, actions and miracles introduce us progressively to this new life, teaching us how it begins and grows within us, how it dies and how it is restored to us if we have lost it. I have come, he tells us, so that they may have life and have it more abundantly. You have only to live on in me, and I will live on in you.

He makes us sharers in the very life of God! Man, at the moment of Baptism, is transformed at the deepest level of his being, to such an extent that he undergoes a new birth, which makes us sons of God, brothers of Christ and members of his Body which is the Church. This life is eternal, if we do not lose it through mortal sin. Death no longer has real power over the one who has this life ? he will never die; he will move house, to go and live permanently in Heaven. Jesus wants us to share in something of which he has the fullness. The life which had flowed forth from the adorable Trinity overflows once more; it spreads and propagates itself From the head it descends to the members. The stem and the branches form one single being they are nourished and act together, producing the same fruits because they are fed by the same sap.

I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, St John tells us, having recounted for us indescribable wonders, that you may know you have eternal life. This new life we receive, or is strengthened, particularly by means of the sacraments, which Our Lord chose to institute so that the Redemption could reach all men in a simple and accessible manner. In these seven efficacious signs of grace we discover Christ, the fountain of all graces. There He speaks to us, there He forgives us, there He strengthens us, there He sanctifies us, there He gives us the kiss of reconciliation and of friendship; there He gives us His own merits and His own power; there He gives us Himself.