5th Sun Easter B
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
There are two features that stand out in this extract from this section of John’s Gospel the use of the vine imagery and the repeated use of the word ‘to remain”.
The vine was a favourite image used in the Old Testament to describe the people of Israel. They were ‘the vine’ that had been taken out of Egypt, planted in the fertile soil of Israel and cared for tenderly by God. They were, by their obedience to God’s commandments, to produce the good wine of God’s joy, the wine that cheers the heart. While wine is a treasured drink in our society, it had an even more central role in that society. Wine is, for us, a social drink or a beverage that enhances a meal, but for these people living without tea or coffee, it was the basic beverage – the alternative to water. Living by God’s commandments, the people of Israel would be fruitful, buoyed up by the joy of God.
Jesus radically alters this imagery of the vine. While the people of Israel had been called the vine, now he states that it is he, himself, that is the vine and we only have true, fruitful existence as we are part of him. In a true healthy vine, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the vine and its branches. In fact, the vine is revealed in the branches.
The word ‘to remain’ or ‘to abide’ is used repeatedly through this passage and beyond to verse 11. It has the meaning of mutuality and reciprocity. It is the word of relationship and with it, we see how deeply grafted we are to be with the person of Jesus. This is not a relationship where just ideas or interests, or even emotions, are shared but rather it extends down into the very substance of who we are.