Jesus introduces the image of vine and branches. This image highlights a more intimate connection between us and Jesus. As the vine and its branches share vital fluids and nutrients, so our connection to Jesus is life for us. Without this vital connection, we wither and die. Still, it isn’t for us to determine how other people are more or less connected to Jesus. That is determined subjectively, as well as by the vinegrower, not us. We need to examine our connection. Is it life-giving? Is it dead? Probably somewhere in between.
What Paul and Barnabas had to deal with in today’s first reading was some sort of review of that vital connection between Jesus and the community of his disciples. As Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the gospel to the Gentiles, they must have preached how Jesus brings about the fulfillment of the Law. And the law of love now surpasses any other measure of faithfulness to God. It was recognition of a new freedom from old tedious repetitive empty practices that had little to do with the mystery of our salvation through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The ruling of the Apostles on the question comes in tomorrow’s reading. But we need to re-examine the purpose of all our so-called “religious” practices. Are they truly essential? Or have we put more importance on them than even Jesus would require? Do they lead us to a closer, more intimate connection with Jesus? Or do they focus on how we can get more noticed, or how we can decimate those who disagree with us, or how we can gain admiration or power or wealth? The purpose of that vital connection is that we might bear more fruit, our words and actions that draw others to Jesus who alone gives eternal life.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Alice Christman.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020