Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Am The Vine, You Are The Branches.

Last Sunday, Jesus was the good shepherd and we were the sheep. Today Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches.

I cannot read this gospel without remembering my uncle “Sonny”, whose home was two lots down the street from the house we moved into not long after I graduated from college. Between his property and the neighbor’s between us, there was a tangle of long tendrils sprouting out of five or six rootstocks along the fence. In our back yard, there was an even larger tangle of similar tendrils surrounded by a cloud [that second letter is an L, not an R] of tiny flying beasties that caused an itch if they landed on your skin.

Long story short (or at least, shorter), the tangle in our yard was doused with flammable liquid and set afire. The tangle along Uncle Sonny’s fence was ignored for several years, until one pleasant early summer afternoon, when he and I noticed that there were tiny spheres, hardly bigger than the dot on a lower case I, along soft tendrils that were sprouting along the surface of the older, larger ones.

“John L, what do you think we ought to do with this?” Uncle Sonny asked.

“I’d say, let them grow, and see what comes of them. If nothing good happens, we’re none the worse. If something good happens, we’ll be glad we waited.”

Long story ending: Two years later, the fellow at the wine and beer supply store in Northampton identified the pale green berries with the white spot as Riesling grapes. Over the next two decades, with the assistance of a hired hand (and a higher power), the owner of that vineyard produced several hundred gallons of light greenish tinged white wine. A couple whom I brought communion on First Fridays said that it was Alsatian (like themselves), from the vines planted by their compatriot Mr. Chrétien, who planted vines from his homeland all the way from Arcade Street to Grattan Street before the property was divided into house lots and Edward Street, Percy Street and Trilby Avenue were laid out in what had been Pépère Chrétien’s vineyard.

This week, for a change, the Scripture is posted after the reflection:


Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.

Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

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