In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear Jesus tell part of the parable of the True Vine. This parable gives us so much to think about. Together with a group of children, I once spent 12 days thinking about this parable, adding a little more each day, and afterwards we were still not finished! We still had more things to think about! That seems to be how the Word of God works. It keeps us thinking and thinking. It always shows us something more.
What is most important for us to think about today? Jesus says,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower...
Most of the time, when Jesus tells a parable, we wonder who he is talking about. In this parable, Jesus is very clear. He tells this parable so that we know for certain, so that we know truly, who everyone is. Jesus is the True Vine, and God the Father is the One who cares for his growth. Jesus is not just any old vine, but the True Vine. What does "true" mean? What other words could you use instead of true?
“I am the vine, you are the branches.
Jesus is also clear about who we are! Now we know--we are the branches on this True Vine. It is interesting that Jesus chooses to say he is the True Vine and not the True Tree. If he was the True Tree, we would know that part of the tree--the trunk--was not us.
But Jesus says he is the True Vine. A vine is made up entirely of branches! If we cut away the branches, there would be nothing left.
What can this mean? Without the branches, there is no vine. The branches are the vine. Does this mean we are Jesus??
We remember that Jesus tells this parable to the disciples before he dies and rises to new life. In a few weeks, we will read about him ascending into heaven. No longer does he walk on the earth. No longer does he speak words that help and heal. Does he? Who will build the Kingdom of God?
Jesus' disciples still walk the earth. His disciples still speak words that help and heal. The work of building the Kingdom of God is left to Jesus' disciples. It is left to us. This is a big work. Jesus wants all of his disciples to know that they do not do this work alone. He says,
“Abide in me as I abide in you.
“Abide” means to make a home. Make a home in me, Jesus says, as I make a home in you. A home is where people know us best. A home is where our family is. Jesus chooses us for his family, and makes his home in us.
The Greek word that St. John uses here is “meno.” “Meno in me as I meno in you.” Meno has two meanings. It means abide, or make a home, but it also means remain.
Remain in me as I remain in you.
We know that remain means “to stay.” When Jesus says meno, he is both asking and telling. Jesus is telling us, look, we are already family, and he is asking us to stay with him. He is inviting us.
Remaining as branches of the True Vine, we do the work of building the Kingdom of God together with Jesus. He works through us. We are his eyes and his ears, his hands and his feet. We are connected to him and we are connected to each other, the other branches. And God the Father cares for us all.