Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
The fruit of the vine is a universal favourite ..either simply in the luscious grape or grape juice itself or we must admit, more so when the juice of the grape has been subjected to a long process of fermentation. The bible in many places praises wine as a symbol of joy `wine to cheer our heart`, it says..
As we know bread and wine are what`s called the material base for Eucharist , just as oil is the material used for the sacrament of the sick.. At the Last Supper Jesus pronounced over bread and wine `Take this and eat…. take this and drink,. We should remember too in this connection that earlier on at that same Passover meal, Jesus described his relationship with believers in the words of today`s gospel:
`I am the vine, you are the branches, whoever remains in me with me in them bears fruit in plenty, for cut off from me you can do nothing.`
Again like last Sunday we have an `I am` statement from Jesus. This is highly significant. It is meant to remind us of the exalted state of Christ who is equal to God.
So in order to make His teaching clear and concrete, Jesus uses the allegory of the vine, something very familiar to Jewish experience . The vine had become a symbol of the nation Israel. It was found on Jewish coins in the Maccabean period, and in the days in which Jesus walked upon this earth there was a huge filigree of a vine adorning the entrance of the temple of Herod in Jerusalem.
In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was often likened to a vine. In Psalm 80:8 the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is described in terms of a vine being transplanted from the soil of Egypt to that of Canaan. That was much the same as the way vines were transplanted here from Europe very successfully 200 years ago.
During the week my cousin and her husband rang me from Mgt River. They had set out in their camper from NSW some time ago and after a long trail across the Nullarbor staying in caravan parks, they had got to the west. Then a few days later I had another call , this time from the Perth Vineyards Caravan Park on Benara Rd. They have now continued up north via the Pinnacles. If they attended mass this weekend the gospel would have struck a chord with them, having come as they did, from one vineyard area to another. But unfortunately they`re not churchgoers so they wont be looking for a church up there.
So then Jesus described the new relationship between Himself and His followers in terms of a vine and its branches . He is the true vine, believers are the branches, and his heavenly Father is the vine-keeper.
As branches of the true vine, we are meant to be an expression of the life of the vine. We are enabled to carry the fruit which is the role of the branches. The church is the body of Christ. The world is to see Him in us — we are His hands, His feet, His mouth, according to a prayer attributed to St. Teresa of Avila. Our Christian responsibility is to “abide” or remain in Christ. John uses this word “abide” , (meno) very frequently in his writings, and several times in this chapter. `The one who eats my body and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in them” (John 6:56).
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity is a famous daughter of the Carmelite St. Teresa of Avila .In one of her meditations Elizabeth commented on the words of Jesus: `Make your home in me,`: `Make your home in me not for a few moments, a few hours, which must pass away, but remain ( and she underlines the word) permanently, habitually. Remain in me, pray in me, adore in me, suffer in me, work and act in me so that you will be able to encounter anyone or anything; penetrate further still into these depths. This is truly the `solitude into which God wants to allure the soul that he may speak to it` as the Prophet says.` Isn`t this a beautiful comment on the words of Jesus.
As the true vine, Jesus is the source of life and strength and fruit bearing. There is a relationship of complete dependence between the branch and the vine. The vine supplies life-giving sap or nourishment to the branches. Apart from it, the branches have neither life nor fruit.
`Apart from me ` Jesus said, `You can do nothing.` As before in the case of the `I am ` statement, this too is probably meant to remind us of what we read in the Prologue to the gospel: ` apart from him, was made nothing that was made.` This underlines the fact that God has entrusted all of creation to the Son. Nothing either in the natural order or the supernatural order lies outside his influence.
A vibrant Eucharistic community is a beacon and an oasis for others in today`s world. Its like my friends landing up in Mgt River after crossing the Nullarbor. Here all members of a human community should find refreshment, support and nourishment as we go on our pilgrimage through life.
Tadgh Tierney ocd