“I am the vine. You are the branches.” Not a horticulturalist, I never stopped to think about what this really meant. I always thought the vine was the more important  structural part of the plant, and the branches were less important—just leaves and stems. But the vine IS the branches. Beatrice Bruteau reminds us that Jesus doesn’t call himself the trunk and we the twigs. Rather she writes: “He is the whole vine, and the vine is its branches, the

branches make up the vine. And his Blood—the wine—flows through the entire system as a unifying stream, a single life principle.” The close union between Jesus Christ and us/me escapes me. I believe He and I are one. I believe that everyone is the extended Body of Christ, that what I do to my neighbor I do to Christ. I get it. It’s just that I don’t really get it. I am almost embarrassed how God has raised me/us up to equality with Him—as christified.

 

 

 

Within the past couple weeks have you eaten ham or jellybeans or Easter eggs? Those foods have now become yourself. The ham is no longer in the refrigerator or the jellybeans in the candy dish. They are no longer just in us either; they are us. This might not be the most exciting thought for us, but it is profound when we realize how much life-sharing Jesus Christ desires for us. “He wants to mingle his life thoroughly with ours—and of course, ours thoroughly with his” (Bruteau, The Easter Mysteries). And so Jesus gave us the food of the Eucharist, so that he could claim “I am in you and you are in me.” Through the Eucharist we have become the extension of Jesus Christ. Beatrice Bruteau continues: “But when this has happened to each of us, when each of us is engaged in life-sharing with Jesus, then he is living in the whole community of us: his Body has been intimately joined to the body of every person in the community. And since his Body is the most vital and the most vitalizing—the most life-giving—element in any of us, all of us together constitute a kind of extension of his Body.  And that enlarged Body acts as any living body does: it grows and unifies and develops; it supports diversity within itself by being secure in its unity; it operates as a system, without superiors or inferiors.”

Spend some time today reflecting on this:  We are the Body of Christ.

 

Beatrice Bruteau writes in The Easter Mysteries that we like to keep the roles straight, something Jesus didn’t do when he washed the feet of his horrified apostles. The Lord and Master was acting out of character. Aghast at the improper role undertaken by Jesus, Peter may have said (in Bruteau’s words), “You’ll upset the whole social order by this kind of behavior. We can’t have this. If you start acting like a servant, what are the rest of us supposed to do?  If I let you wash me, why I might even be expected to wash my wife’s feet! People won’t know their place anymore, what their station in life is.” Of course, we know Jesus’ answer: “Go along with this, or don’t be my disciple.” Two thousand years after that famous night when the activity of a servant became inextricably tied to Eucharist and fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we still cling to our roles, our prestige, our elitism. We really should know our place and keep everyone else in their places—the least ones of whom the Kingdom of Heaven is comprised.

I love the stories during the Octave of Easter. My favorite is the story of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, scoffing at a Stranger who “does not know of the things that have taken place” but soon becoming quite impressed by the wise Stranger’s understanding of the Scriptures. I like this story so much that I have on file that this story should be read at my funeral, if the occasion lands during the Easter Season. I never tire of the story. I could hear over and over again Jesus’ trick of pretending to go on farther, their discovering Jesus’ identity in the breaking of the bread, and the two apostles’ recognition that each had their hearts burning within them.  Best of all, “they set out at once” to spread the news—the Good News.

Where did you discover Jesus today?  In which stranger? At which meal? And did you spread this Good News?