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April 29, 1994     The Message
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129,1994 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 Commentary -- Jesus as the true vine: Who is the false vine? Fifth Sunday of Easter, 15:1.8. it has been pointed out before ies how the au- of John intends that Jesus perfects as favorite or and how Jesus re- perfects not only Israel it- ns and feasts Jesus is "Son of sense. He is the He is life and gives life to the great Torah of Is- Ci00h By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST writes in 1:17, "The Torah was given , but grace and truth came through even hints at Jesus as the new seamless robe story of John 19. nstrates or at least indicates s the Passover Lamb and indi- Sacrificial system of Judaism when he in- death through Old Testament texts :r to the Passover Lamb. And so it is gospel. not and do not feel comfortable today antagonism and animosity toward Ju- Was in serious debate and sometimes with the Judaism of his time, the end century. The group for which this author Seems to have been expelled or excom- e synagogue, probably over devel- Christian theology about Jesus, his mission, his continuing spiritual pres- ence in the congregation. Thus when we see the bitterness which this gospel demonstrates against Jews and Judaism, we must at- tribute it more to the time of John than to the time of Jesus, for Jesus and his first followers were Jews to the core. As Christianity developed from a movement within Judaism into an adolescent and then fully grown daughter-re- ligion, mother and daughter came into bitter conflict. In today's reading we have another reflection of this conflict. It is the parable of Jesus as TRUE vine. There is Old Testament background essen- tial to interpreting this parable in its historical context or setting in life. Such an interpretation is foundation to any genuine interpretation. Psalm 80 speaks of a vine the Lord brought out of Egypt. That vine prospered and covered the forests and grew into seas and rivers. Now it was broken down. The Greek text of Jeremiah 2:21 speaks of Israel as a TRUE vine that has turned into a wild vine. Ezekiel 15:1-5 compares the inhabitants of Jerusalem to a vine branch that will be used as fuel for fire and will be charred, useless for any- thing. Ezekiel 19:10-14 speaks of Israel as a fruit- ful vine full of branches due to abundant water. That vine, the prophet says, has been pulled out, stripped of fruit and planted in a dry land produc- ing nothing. Thus when John's parable proclaims Jesus as TRUE vine it is a claim that Jesus has replaced Israel. We must abstract from animosity toward Israel and say that Jesus is indeed the true vine who continues and reestablishes Israel as is said of God's Servant in Isaiah 49:6, "...to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Is- rael." The parable speaks not only of the vine but also of the branches. We know that John frequently used those parts of Old Testament literature called the wisdom literature to interpret Jesus and his influ- ence on those who follow him. The union between vine and branches is best stated in Sirach 24:17-22, "I am like a vine putting out graceful branches. Ap- proach me, you who desire me, and take your fill of my fruits. They who eat me will hunger for more. They who drink me will thirst for more. Whoever lis- tens to me will never be put to shame and whoever works in me bill never sin." No better interpretation can be found of the words in John's vine and branches parable: "I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them, they are the ones who will hear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." The parable includes a prognosis and a warning. Those who remain united to Jesus bear much fl'uit. Those who do not remain united with him will wither, be cut off, and thrown aside for firewood. The Father is glorified, i.e. made known, only through the bearing of fruit. Unity with Jesus is never unpro- ductive or static. It is like electric current that ulti- mately brings power and light not only to ourselves but to others. If we are alive with knowledge and love of Jesus, we will share it with others, "and so prove that you are my disciples." Readings: Acts 9:26.31; 1 John 3:18.24 iiii i I ! Peoples I N' S LAW N CA R E Trust I Company | CLEANING PRUNING TRIMMING SOUTH MAiN STREET | P.O, BOX 191 | NG - CLEANED AND REPAIRED . ,TON.,NDIAN,. 4z,.' I . Jl Your Personal Service Agent E? Suicidal?,TT00,T,,00,r=,TFeeling Hopeless? James L. Wall Ins. Agency Inc.  -J.IJljF,..,JL=II E .925 w. Franklin Street 425-3187. confidential assessments and help! RAL HEALTH CENTER RIAL.. HOSPITAL Lcl L ]Fealth (.;zr. ( :elter 4 7 9-3 5 3 6 COMPLETE INSURANCE SERVICE Auto! Home! Fire & Life! I IIII g I III YouCan FA.RMER . 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