Tomorrow’s Gospel gives us Our Lord’s parable of The Vine and the Branches. Now, since I want to talk about our Paschal Candle tomorrow, I am going to jump ahead, and talk about the Vine and Branches today.
The Vine and Branches parable is so expressive that it doesn’t need explaining. Still, I’d like to comment on two aspects of it.
One lesson Jesus teaches with this parable is that we absolutely need the grace we receive from him. It is like the sap the branches receive from the vine to make them productive. I like that old Latin phrase, the sine qua non. It describes that without which nothing can happen.
St. John spoke about that sine qua non in the Prelude to his Gospel. He wrote, “Through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.” On comic pages when a character gets an idea it is portrayed by a light bulb being switched on over his head. In line with that, on hearing that the life of Jesus is my light, I realize that he is powering all my mental activity.
A second thing I get from the parable of the Vine and the Branches is that just as the success of a vineyard is judged by the number and the quality of its grapes, so the success of my life can be judged from the amount of good things I do for people. This notion takes me away from concerns of how I might rank as a spiritual person. It has me concentrating instead on the unfilled needs of the people around me.