Staying Connected to the True Vine

Week of April 29, 2018

In the Gospel we are presented a beautiful image of a vine growing, producing a rich and choice harvest.  It is a picture of new green shades of growth, it is filled with a fragrance of spring freshness, and it is a reminder of great things yet to come.  Farmers, growers, gardeners all know of the many stages and cycles a plant or a crop or a vine goes through.  It is a powerful thing to see the tenacity of a plant weathering winds and storms, temperatures that drop or soar, yet it continues to cling to life and growth.  There is only so much a grower can do.  For us, when Jesus tells us He is the vine and we are the branches, we are called to live with that tenacity to grow.  To be able to do that we must stay connected to the source of our strength, the vine, Jesus the Christ.  When Jesus uses this analogy He longs for us to live with the expectation of growth until the time of harvest, never relenting, never giving up no matter what circumstances prevail.  To grow is to stay connected.  We do this most profoundly by celebrating our faith and being connected to the Sacraments.  No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, outside influences cannot overtake the nourishment of being connected to the vine.  While this is crucial, another aspect of the statement of Jesus is also very important, he says he is the TRUE Vine.

What does this mean for us?  Of course we would say He is the true vine and there is nothing earth shattering about this.  Yet to uncover this image is an invitation to dwell in the purest sense of truth.  Pilate will ask Jesus, “What is truth?”  For us to encounter the true vine, our true life source for our soul, we must enter a relationship with Jesus that goes beyond any interpretation of anyone else’s encounters.  Each branch has a unique connection with the vine for it to grow.  Remember what the people of the town said after the woman at the well invited them into a relationship with Jesus?  They said they can believe, but it is not based on someone else’s witnessing.  They now know it for themselves.  Our interpretation of being connected to the true vine has to be our unique connection, intimate and personal, uninfluenced by the Church, the institution, any inspirational songs or events.  This connection has to be a pure moment of the true and authentic Jesus.  To get to this is not easy.  It takes meditation, actualization of experiencing Jesus in the present moment without any restrictions of interpretation placed on Him by our minds or traditions, our likes and dislikes.  It is pure.  It is the way in which we can experience His truth.  His Truth is a life source.  No growth can happen without this connection.  Too often we get entangled with other people’s interpretations of connection.  We read heroic testimonies that are powerful and good, yet we may miss the opportunity to hang onto the truth we are given as gift with our personal connection to the true vine.  It is not that we are disconnected, rather it’s something that we are not focusing on—the point of connection with the purest truth offered, this Real Presence, is found in the gift and life source of love and grace given in the Sacraments.

Stay connected, yet seek first the true vine who is our Savior.

Reverend John J. Ouper