What a tangled bunch of branches we are

Sunday’s gospel was the one from St. John where Jesus tells his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” Our spot in that viticultural family tree is out a little further, as Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” and without a close relationship to the vine, the branches are kindling.

God is going to do some pruning. Jesus makes it clear that even good branches are going to be tidied up. Some of us are going to feel a sting now and then as He prepares us to bear even more fruit. “No pain, no gain,” must be God’s motto too.

At Mass this Sunday, Monsignor put a spin on that Gospel message that I had missed. He asked us to think about a grapevine, and how intertwined the branches are to one another. The branches wind in and about one another, sometimes supporting each other, sometimes tying one another into living knots. It’s impossible, said Monsignor, to separate the living branches.

You know where he’s going with this, don’t you? That’s right, fellow grape-bearers, whether we like it or not, we are bound to one another. Unless one of us decides to break off the vine (and die), we remain together until the harvest. We support each other, we shelter each other, sometimes we (figuratively I hope) choke each other, but our lives are wrapped together as completely as this year’s vintage. We’re all in this together.

I wonder, then, if it was a coincidence that in the second reading, John urges us, “Children, let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth,” and that we need to “…believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”

Reach out and give your fellow branch a squeeze today.

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