Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 15:1-6; John 15:1-8)
One of the characteristics of the Gospel According to John is Jesus’ speaking of himself as “I am.” In today’s passage he says, “I am the true vine.” He also speaks of himself as “I am the Good Shepherd,” “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the light of the world,” etc. It is not plausible that Jesus made such declarations about himself. Rather the evangelist John uses the images with which Jesus spoke of God’s Kingdom – vineyards, shepherds and lost sheep, bread feeding thousands – to explain the meaning of Jesus for the world.
By having Jesus call himself the “true vine,” the evangelist intends to say that he gives life. As a branch would wither and die if it does not stay connected to the vine, so would those who cut themselves off from the Church, where Jesus lives today, soon fail to live productive lives. “Productive lives” are not those which make a lot of money or even have a lot of children. They are lives which work for the good of all and end in true happiness.
We may have difficulty appreciating all the images the evangelist John uses to describe the meaning of Jesus. Most of us get our fruit from stores, not from trees. Perhaps living in an age that values autonomy highly, we may think that we are being underestimated when compared to sheep in need of a shepherd. Some of this difficulty may be arrogance. If Jesus is as we proclaim him to be in the Creed, then we need him more than air.