“I am the vine, you are the branches!”
In the late 1980s, a fire destroyed a building on the lower east side of Manhattan. An alarm was sounded and the trucks and personnel arrived in plenty of time to fight the fire. The exit doors worked properly. The steps were clear. The people got out of the building quickly and in order. However, the fire burned out of control and the building had to be demolished. When the firemen arrived, the hoses on the wall were installed properly. There were hoses hundreds of feet in length--clearly sufficient to put the fire out. It was discovered too late, however, that the city water line had never been connected to this part of the system. It was a deadly oversight. To live a human life disconnected from the living God is tragic as well. Jesus did more than come to live among us. He is the life-giving vine and we are the branches.
"I am the vine…you the branches." But a vine is all branches! For a vine there is not much of trunk. The vine is just branches. He has identified himself with us. It is about our relationship with Jesus. Suppose a branch come off from a tree during storm, it dies. It is because that branch no longer part of the vine. It lost its life. This weekend the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, testifies to the abundance of spiritual fruits yielded by the apostles because of their close bond with the risen Lord. John, in his first letter to the Church, explains that only if we remain united to Christ by putting our faith in him and drawing our spiritual strength from him, will we be able to obey God’s commandments, especially the commandment of love.
What really matters in our lives? What matters is the Love of Christ that we have been empowered to make real in the world. During Easter time we celebrate the gift of the Lord’s life we received at Baptism. We are continually fed and nourished at the Altar. We need to be determined to strengthen this life within us. We need to be more faithful, more prayerful. We need to try harder in our prayer life. That is how we stay closer to him and bring God’s love to others. We need to be connected to Christ like a vine and branches to receive life abundantly, so we can share with many.
God is with us, yes. But to have a relationship with God; we need to be with Him too. When we do this, when we are united to the vine, then we can do the work of the Christian. We can draw others to Him. We can bear fruit.