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April 26, 1991     The Message
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April 26, 1991

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April 26, 1991 Commentary  Ma,s Readings By FArHER DONALD DILGER The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana I i Parable of the vine and the branches: Jesus as the vine 5 Gospel Commentary [or Fifth Sunday of Easter: Cycle B: April 28, 1991: John 15:1-8 In the middle of Jesus' long discourse or speech at the Last Supper, the author of the Gospel of John inserts the parable of the vine and bran- ches. He opens with the statement: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser." The vinedresser is the gardner. When Jesus calls himself the Good or True Shepherd, the reader of the gospel concludes that if Jesus is the True Shepherd, there must be a false shepherd. The same holds true of Jesus as the True Vine. Who or what is represented by the untrue or false vine? A look at the Old Testament background to this parable will help us. The most important background text is found in Jeremiah 2:21. The prophet is speaking to the people of Israel in the name of the Lord: "I planted you an all-true fruitbearing vine. How then have you turned into bitterness, an alien vine?" From the point of view of the author of the Gospel of John, Jesus replaces the institutions of the Old Testament. For example, Jesus is the new temple. Jesus is "the Way," that is the way of life expected of the people of God. In the Old Testament all of Israel is frequently described as a vineyard and sometimes as a vine. According to Jeremiah Israel began as a true and fruitbearing vine, but ended up as a wild vine bearing bitter grapes. John presents Jesus in this parable as the True Vine that replaces the vine that is Israel, the vine that he thinks of as having lost its original purpose. Israel rejected its Messiah. Such a judgment may seem harsh, but John is capable of far greater harshness toward Judaism than that which is implied in this parable. Like the Gospel of Matthew, John displays considerable an- tagonism toward the Judaism of his time, the last decade of the first century. In frequent com- parisons between Jesus and Moses, Moses comes out the loser. Harsh names are traded between Jesus and his opponents in this gospel. It is impor- tant to bear in mind that at least some of the enemies of Jesus in Matthew and John were not so much opponents of Jesus around 30 A.D. as they were opponents of Matthew and John in the late decades of the first century. The divine inspiration that guides an author in writing New Testament literature does not guarantee the author's freedom from prejudices. That is the human element that makes sacred literature all the more interesting. The parable speaks of the necessity of pruning. Dead branches are cut off. The good branches are pruned back to produce more fruit. In the parable Jesus says: "Remain in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains on the vine, neither can you, unless you remain in me." The parable is directed by John toward the members of his Christian community. An un- productive Christian is the branch that will be cut off. The productive Christian is the branch that is pruned back for increased production. How is a Christian productive? Perhaps this statement made by Jesus in the Gospel of John will help us understand: "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit." The idea of pruning in the parable is a kind of death to pro- duce life. The grain of wheat must give itself to produce a new plant. Christians are asked by this parable to engage in self-giving service to others. This is how they will bear much fruit. The parable closes with a warning that the discarded branches will be gathered and'thrown into. the fire. John never says much in his gospel about eternal punishment. This is as close as he comes to it. The warning is directed to the un- productive members of his Christian community. These are the people who are self-serving, self- centered, unlike the grain of wheat that dies in order to produce. Where do we fit? To be cut off or to be cut back to produce more? The parable warns and encourages us as it did John's Christian community. Readings for Sunday, April 28, 1991: Acts 9:26.31; John 3:18.24 Bills thrown into conference committees at end of session By ANN WADELTON Indiana Catholic Conference What happens in the final days of the, Indiana State Legislature? Something just this side of chaos," said one Veteran statehouse watcher. Tracking bills becomes a full time job. Big lobby groups utilize a large staff. Some hire the help of a consulting firm. Small groups ban together to try to keep up. The ordinary citizen doesn't have a chance. That's the concern of the In- diana Catholic Conference, ac- cording to its d!rector Dr. M. Desmond Ryan. The ordinary citizen who has been actively involved in following the says Dr. Ryan, is the huge Among bills which died on Ryan. Other states, he said, legislature throughout the first number of bills thrown into the calendar was HB 1802 have had problems with the 58 days of the session, is almost conference committees, and which would have authorized a lethal injection process which totally shut out in the final few also the extraordinary number sentencing option of life in has required the direct in- days," he said. of bills killed, not for lack of prison without parole for tervention of health care That's because of conference merit, but because of political capital offenses. This would professionals. committees and the way they maneuvering. Earlier this add to the current options of are currently used. The con- month, 63 bills died in the death by electrocution or life in A family leave bill supported ference committee was design- House on the deadline day for prison which means a max- by the ICC has beensent tocon- ed as one of the steps in the passage when Republicans imum of 40 years. With credit ferencecommittee. The original orderly process of making laws. walked out amid partisan ten- time for good behavior, the of- bill was amended onto another Two members from each sions caused by many factors fender can be released in 20 bill in the House when con- chamber try to reach a com- including a name-calling inci- years. HB 1802 was ammended sideration was blocked in the promise on any differences in dent. Without a quorum, 63 in the Senate to include an op- Senate. the bills passed by the House bills awaiting action died at tion of death by lethal injection and the Senate. That's also midnight. On the same day, 36 rather than electrocution. One of the few public whenbills whichhave died can bills died in the Senate. ICC supports life without assistance bills to make it be resurrected by attaching parole as consistent with their through the process is also in them onto a live bill. The sponsors of many bills opposition to capital punish- conference committee. As in- The problem in recent years, purposely put them into con- ment. But ICC opposes lethal troduced, HB 1915called forin- ,, , terence committee, by dissen- injection for several reasons in- creasing Aid to Families with ting to any changes in the bill, cluding the fear that this sup- Dependent Children payments so they can become vehicles to posedly "more humane" kill- but ended up calling for a corn- carry other defeated bills. A ing will make the death penalty mittee to stfidy the adequacy of notice of the first conference more acceptable. Lethal injec- public welfare payments. committee meeting is posted tion would also support a This session of the Indiana four-hours prior to the schedul- dangerous precedent of involv- General Assembly is expected ed time. Follow-up meetings ing health care professional in toend an April 30, the deadline can occur anytime, the direct act of killing, said Dr. for adjournment. l " I EVANSVILLE SERVICE AND SHOPPING GUIDE i ml 'l ii FOR THE BEST PLUMBING SERVICE RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL (FREE ESTIMATES) GRANT PLUMBING CO. 484 S. GOVERNOR AT CANAL Ph. 424-2441 Spaidings Food Land 2100 Stringtown 1 71 3 E. Morgan 411 S. Barker Visit Our Complete Delicatessen Prime Cuts of Beef i ill Evans00lle Wet Heat & Piping Co.Jnc00 :i New & Used Boilers, Furnaces Repair & Replacement 424-0991 S00 E. Oregon Carpet Cleaning SERVICE MASTER For Free Estimates ........ Ca.ll_42B'_09,(. .............. ItJIJ sel00r Sales & Service TV & 2-Way FM 1916 W. 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