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Fifth and Sixth Sunday of Easter – The reading is from the Gospel John 15:1-17.

The Vine and the Branches – John 15:1-17

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.

I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

This I command you: love one another.

This passage from John 15:1–17 resembles a parable. It is similar to the beginning of the passage of the parable of the “Good Shepherd” – a pericope in John 10:1–5.

Amen, amen, I say to you,a whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.

But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,b because they recognize his voice.

But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.

In John 15:1–17, we see Jesus comparing Israel to a vineyard as in Isaiah:

The Song of the Vineyard – Isaiah 5:1–7

Now let me sing of my friend,
my beloved’s song about his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;

He spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
Within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he waited for the crop of grapes,
but it yielded rotten grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem, people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:

What more could be done for my vineyard
that I did not do?
Why, when I waited for the crop of grapes,
did it yield rotten grapes?

Now, I will let you know
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
Take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!

Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but will be overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to rain upon it.

The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
the people of Judah, his cherished plant;
He waited for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

and as a parable that is found in Matthew.

The Parable of the Tenants – Matthew 21:33–46

Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.

When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.

But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned.

Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way.

Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’

But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’

They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”

They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes’?

Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.

[The one who falls on this stone will be dashed to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.]”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them.

And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.

Jesus pictures Israel as a vine as we find in

Psalms 80:9–17

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out nations and planted it.

You cleared out what was before it;
it took deep root and filled the land.

The mountains were covered by its shadow,
the cedars of God by its branches.

It sent out its boughs as far as the sea,
its shoots as far as the river.

Why have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?

The boar from the forest strips the vine;
the beast of the field feeds upon it.

Turn back again, God of hosts;
look down from heaven and see;
Visit this vine,
the stock your right hand has planted,
and the son whom you made strong for yourself.

Those who would burn or cut it down—
may they perish at your rebuke. 

 Jeremiah 2:21

But I had planted you as a choice vine,
all pedigreed stock;
How could you turn out so obnoxious to me,
a spurious vine?

Ezekiel 15:2

Son of man,
what makes the wood of the vine
Better than the wood of branches
found on the trees in the forest?

Ezekiel 17:5–10

Then he took some native seed
and planted it in fertile soil;
A shoot beside plentiful waters,
like a willow he planted it,
that it might sprout and become a vine,
dense and low-lying,
With its branches turned toward him,
its roots beneath it.

Thus it became a vine, produced branches,
and put forth shoots.

Then another great eagle appeared,
with wide wingspan, rich in plumage,
And see! This vine bent its roots to him,
sent out branches for him to water.

From the bed where it was planted,
it was transplanted to a fertile field
by abundant waters, to produce branches,
to bear fruit, to become a majestic vine.

Say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Can it thrive?
Will he not tear up its roots
and strip its fruit?
Then all its green leaves will wither—
neither strong arm nor mighty nation
is needed to uproot it.

True, it is planted; but will it thrive?
Will it not wither up
when the east wind strikes it,
wither in the very bed where it sprouted? 

 Ezekiel 19:10

Your mother was like a leafy vine
planted by water,
Fruitful and full of branches
because of abundant water.

Hosea 10:1

Israel is a luxuriant vine
whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
the more altars he built;
The more productive his land,
the more sacred pillars he set up.

The identification of the vine as the Son of Man in

Psalms 80:15

Turn back again, God of hosts;
look down from heaven and see;
Visit this vine, 

and Wisdom’s description of herself as a vine in

Sirach 24:17

I bud forth delights like a vine;
my blossoms are glorious and rich fruit 

are further background for portrayal of Jesus by this figure.

There may also be secondary eucharistic symbolism “the fruit of the vine” in

Mark 14:25

“Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

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