I am the true vine

5th Sunday of Easter

Today’s Gospel passage forms part of Jesus’ discourse during the Last Supper. In John’s Gospel, during the Last Supper, Jesus washes the apostles’ feet, he speaks about Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. Jesus also promises the apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit and he speaks about the need to remain in him like the branches are part of the vine. This is in fact the part which will be read today.

The image of the vine dates back from the Old Testament, where the People of Israel were likened to the vineyard and God as the vine grower (Psalm 80,9-10). One of John’s aims, was to show through his writings, that Jesus fulfilled God’s promises to the People of Israel. Jesus wants the apostles to understand and to believe that after his death, he will not leave them on their own. Through this imagery of the vine and the branches, Jesus shows that he will not only be close to them but that he will be a main part of their life. This is the sort of intimacy Jesus wants to have with us. Jesus wanted to have this type of relationship with the apostles, so that they could continue the work that he had started. If this relationship was broken, the apostles could not continue on his footsteps. Today, this work is being sustained by us and through us. 

By using this imagery, Jesus also shows us that we are part of a greater community. The vine has various branches. Jesus is not only part of me but also part of the others too. This is further exemplified in St Paul’s writings, when he speaks about the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12, 27). In the same way that we care for the whole of our body, we need to care for others, without any preferences. We are all part of the same body. We need to see others in the same way Jesus sees them, our behaviour towards them, needs to be the same as that of Jesus, we are to help, love and forgive them. This shows us that it is difficult for us to achieve all this on our own. We need the help of the Holy Spirit, to live as worthy parts of the Body of Christ. 

In fact, prior to today’s passage, Jesus promises the help of the Holy Spirit. He knows that on our own, we will find it very difficult. The Holy Spirt who gives us the courage, the strength, will and commitment, to live as true Christians. 

What is Jesus expecting from us? First and foremost, Jesus wants us to get to know him. We build our relationship with Jesus through scripture, prayer and particularly through the Eucharist through which we are united with Jesus in a special way. The more we get to know Jesus, the more the wish to do as he wills, is instilled in us. When we do what Jesus wants, we will be producing the fruit Jesus is referring to, today.

In this passage, Jesus makes us also aware of what happens when we are lukewarm and indifferent, when we do not do our best to follow him. Jesus says that he is the “true vine”. Therefore, this means that there are other vines, which are not true. It is of paramount importance to see to which vine we are attached. What could these other vines be? What is our major priority in life? Our answer to this will show us to which vine we are attached. To be part of the true vine, we need to do all things for the glory of God. This comes to be when we always try to make the right choices.

A reading from the Gospel John (Jn 15, 1-8) 

Jesus said to his disciples: “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 every one 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  3. Think about your way of life. Is your lifestyle and the choices you make, strengthening or weakening your relationship with Jesus?
  4. Think about the choices you are making on behalf of your children. What are the priorities? Sports, proficiency in musical instruments, academic achievements are all important. However, are these taking up too much time, so much so that catechetical meetings are excluded, and that there is no time to attend Sunday mass and to pray together? Can you organise your family agenda differently, so that Jesus is given priority?
  5. Together with your family find the right time to read this gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare:
    i. The Bible reading from John (15, 1-8)
    ii. A candle
    iii. Cover the table with a white cloth
    vi. A plant, to help the children understand better the concept of the branches being an integral part of the whole plant. A leaf on its own cannot live.
    v. A computer/laptop with the reading and clips
  6. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested)
  7. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  8. Be creative 😊
  9. Go to the Prayer Corner section to continue praying as a family

The apostles and Jesus’ friends did not always understand his teachings. Jesus helped them understand by telling them stories or giving examples of everyday things. Today, Jesus, usesthe vine as an example. The apostles knew what a vine was, they knew how it grew and how to take care of it. Did you ever see a vine? Do you know what it is? (note to parents: show them the picture of the vine. It would be even better if you showed them a real one. When you go out, look for a vineyard, so that the children can understand better). The vine gives us grapes. Let us listen to what Jesus is going to tell us about the vine.

  • When I do what Jesus wants, I will be like that branch in the vine, which produces fruit
  • Picture of a vine
  • Printout of today’s activity
  • Colours
  • Photos or else the children may draw (see activity, further down)

Did you understand what Jesus said? It is not very easy to understand. Watch this clip about Basil, and you may understand Jesus better. 

What was Basil’s wish? (to grow grapes)

Could he grow these grapes on his own? (no)

What did he have to do, to grow grapes? (he had to be part of the vine)

Do you know why Basil had to remain part of the vine to produce grapes? This is because it is the vine which provides food to the branches. The vine has roots in the soil, and it gets the food from there. So, Basil, could not produce grapes on his own. Basil, needed the vine to give him the strength and the food he needed to grow grapes.

Would you like to be good children?

Is it always easy to be good?

You know, that to be good, you need to do what Jesus wishes. How will you know what Jesus wants? (listening to Bible stories, we listen to our parents and those who love us, and we learn from them too, we pay attention during catechetical meetings, during religion lessons, we also pay attention when we go to church, and we need to pray)

If you try to do what Jesus wants, you will be like Basil who remained attached to the vine. Basil understood that on his own, he could not produce grapes. As Basil, you cannot be good, on your own. You need Jesus and all the help he sends you, like your parents, grandparents, priests, catechists, teachers, friends, who help you do as he wishes. They help you to do what Jesus wants, because even they, like Basil, decided to be part of the vine. They decided that they want to love Jesus and do what he wants. Part of what Jesus wants them to do, is to teach you and help you to be good children!

For today’s activity, you have a picture of Jesus as a vine. In the branches (in the circles) stick a photo of yourself and of those who help you to be good. If you do not have photos, you may draw them. Afterwards colour the whole picture. Where are you going to put this picture? Will you leave it in a place where you can see it?

When we do what Jesus wants, we will be happy. So let us sing, Jump around,  so that we will remember that whatever we do, we should do it to please Jesus.

Last week, Jesus told us that he was the Good Shepherd. Today, Jesus is going to describe himself as the true vine. The vine is that plant which gives us grapes.

  • Jesus shows us that when we allow him to be part of our lives, we will bear fruit
  • Fruit which the children like
  • Fruit which the children like, but are rotten
  • Toaster
  • Bread
  • Printout of the bunch of grapes
  • Purple finger paint or colours
  • Pencil 

Today, Jesus speaks about fruit. But before we see what Jesus said, we are going to have some toast. (note to parents: have the toaster and bread ready before this session. The toaster should be in a place where the children can see it, unplug it. It should be obvious that it is unplugged. Pretend that you did not notice that it is unplugged and put the bread in the toaster. If you do not have a toaster, use the television as an example, instead of making toast, say that you are going to watch a program on television. It is important that we ensure the children’s safety during this activity)

What happened? It looks like we will not be having toast after all! Is the toaster broken? (if the children do not notice that the toaster is unplugged, move the wire, or else show them that it is unplugged)

That’s better… the toaster is not broken, but it needs to be plugged to the electricity to work!

To teach the apostles, Jesus did not use a toaster, instead, he used the example of the vine. In those days, there were no toasters, but there were vines everywhere. The apostles could understand well what Jesus was telling them. You too understood that unless the toaster was plugged in, the bread could not be toasted!

What does all this have to do with the way we live?

Jesus is telling us that just as the branches remain alive and strong, as long as they are part of the vine, similarly, it is important for us to allow Jesus to be part of our lives. When the branch is attached to the vine, it can produce grapes. When we allow Jesus to be part of our life, the fruit we produce will be visible through the way we behave and talk. In one of his letters, St Paul speaks of the fruit we produce. St Paul speaks about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us courage and strength to live as Jesus wishes. St Paul says that the Holy Spirit helps us grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We also know that to be able to produce fruit, the plant needs food. We too need food, and we find this in the Eucharist, in prayer and in reading the Bible. To produce good fruit, we need to allow Jesus to be part of our lives, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will produce this fruit. 

Look at this fruit (note to parents: show them the fruit, the good fruit, and the rotten ones). From which fruit would you like to eat?

No one wants from the rotten fruit? Jesus said that he is the true vine. This shows that we may be attached to a vine which is not true. In this case, we will produce rotten fruit. This will happen when we do not allow Jesus into our lives, when we do not pray, when we are distracted during Bible reading or during catechetical meetings and mass, or we do not even go to mass, or else we obey our friends, rather than obey Jesus. 

It is important to be part of Jesus’ vine. Jesus knows that we will not always do as he wishes. This is why he mentions that branches need to be pruned. This means, that, 

with God’s help, we can stop making wrong choices, even if this is difficult.

In today’s activity, together, you will brain storm and give examples of how you can allow the Holy Spirit to grow his fruit in you. First you may listen to, Fruit of the Spirit. You have the picture of the bunch of grapes. Use finger paint or colours to colour it in. Think of how you can show love and kindness, how you can bring joy to others, give examples of being patient and gentle and how to use self-control. How will you be an instrument of peace, and how can you grow in goodness and trustfulness? Write these examples in the grapes and put the finished picture somewhere where it is easily seen, on the fridge, for example, so that all the family will remember what each needs to do to grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Sign of the cross.

Just as the branches are all attached to the vine, we are all attached to Jesus. To show this, during the prayer, hold each other’s hand.

Jesus you are the true vine, and we are the branches. Help us to remain attached to you. Holy Spirit be our help, so that we may grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. Lord God, bless us, so that as a family we continue to live in your love. Amen.

1. In today's Gospel Jesus described himself as the true vine and his Father as...

Correct! Wrong!

2. Jesus also said that every branch that is in him and does not make fruit, will be...

Correct! Wrong!

3. What did Jesus say to the disciples when he insisted that they are to him as the branches are to the vine?

Correct! Wrong!

4. Jesus says that the branches that wither and are thrown out because they are severed from him, will...

Correct! Wrong!

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.