Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Imagine yourself in the early Jerusalem Christian community, gathered for Sunday Eucharist—and in walks Saul, well-known for his persecution of the Church. What would your reaction be?
Saul’s friends must have had a time convincing the community that Saul was on their side. Barnabas was his “guardian angel,” nicknamed the “son of encouragement,” according to an earlier story in Acts. Not a bad friend to have if you’re Saul and badly in need of credibility.
Barnabas must have been convincing, since the story says Saul was soon “moving freely” about Jerusalem and preaching boldly. In fact, enemies of the Christian community were soon plotting to kill Saul. His zeal made him controversial, no matter whose side he was on!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the comparison of vine and branches to describe our unity with him. In a community, the unity we share with Christ must also mean we are united with each other. The story about Saul and the Jerusalem community reminds us how important it is to affirm one another within our contemporary parish settings. We must welcome and integrate those who are new to the community. We may need to support our more zealous and outspoken members when they witness boldly. In all things, we strive to keep Jesus' command: to love one another, as he has loved us.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
According to the first reading (Acts 9:26-31), why were the disciples afraid to meet Paul after he came back from Damascus?
Who brought Paul to meet with the disciples?
Why did Paul have to leave Jerusalem?
What does the letter in the second reading (1 John 3:18-24), say about love of neighbor? Love must be in . . . .?
How do we know that someone remains in God?
In the Gospel (John 15:1-8), what does the image of the vine and branches mean?
What happens to the one who remains in union with the vine?
Take heed from the second reading and try to perform at least one act of kindness and love a day.
Plant berries in either your yard or in a pot. Take note of how the vine grows and think about why Jesus might have used the vine and branches analogy.