Sunday 3 May 2015


Andre-Rublev's Saviour
  Homily preached by Br. Simeon     Sunday 3rd May 2015:  


Gospel:  John 15: 1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower . . . I am the vine, you are the branches.”
“Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

In the Name of the one God, +Father, +Son and +Holy Spirit. Amen.

From the music of the psalms to the engravings on the temple pediments, vines were a symbol of Yahweh’s many blessings to Israel.  In his Last Supper discourse (from which today’s Gospel is taken), Jesus appropriates the image of the vine to explain his eternal connectedness to his disciples, their connectedness through him to God, and their connectedness to one another.

In this today being the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we have today's Gospel reading of the vine and the branches. The gospel reading for this weekend records for us, perhaps, one of the best known and best loved sections in all of scripture. Jesus calls Himself the “vine” and us His “branches.” “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15: 5-6)

Jesus, the vine, rooted and grounded in His relationship with God the Father, supports and gives life to us, His branches. Without being connected to Jesus by faith, we would perish eternally, just like a branch cut off from its vine, plant or tree eventually dies!

Jesus tells us that the “Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15: 1-2) Out of His love for us and His desire that we be “fruitful,” the Father occasionally “prunes” us by disciplining us or by allowing distress and difficulty to come into our lives. God is not an angry, vindictive tyrant when such things happen to us; rather, “He trims [us] clean so that [we] will be even more fruitful.” (John 15: 2)

In Christ, we are “grafted” to God and to one another. The Risen One calls us to community, to be branches on the same vine, to realise our life in Christ is also life in one another.

We cannot live our faith in a vacuum: Unless Jesus becomes the centre of our lives, the faith we profess is doomed to wither and die in emptiness.
Our power, strength and life come from Jesus. He promises, “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” Through our worship together, Bible study, scripture reading, private devotions, reception of the sacraments and our service to those around us, we remain in Jesus and He remains in us. We bear fruit and grow strong and healthy in the whole life of Christian discipleship

The Easter season speaks to us of the eternal presence of Christ in our midst, present to us in the Word we have heard and has taken root in our hearts.  Our faithfulness to the call to discipleship demands that we work to enable that Word within us to produce a “yield” of compassion, forgiveness, justice and reconciliation.  In the “fruit” we bear as "branches" of Christ do we glorify God the “vine grower.”