Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Way back in the mid 1960’s, a Canadian communication theorist named Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message.” He proposed that a communication medium itself, not the messages it carries, should be the primary focus of study. He showed that artifacts such as media affect any society by their characteristics, or content.

All we have to do to get the “message” Our Lord Jesus preached is to observe Him striding across the pages of the New Testament to validate McLuhan’s theory. Of course, we believers treasure His every word, and we can build our lives around them. But we can watch Him in our imaginations and see the very Word of God live His earthbound existence and conclude that He is truth itself. If only a nervous Pilate had waited for Jesus’ answer to his question “What is truth?” on that fateful Friday long ago! But then we know that the procurator had proven unworthy of a response.

Today’s beautiful yet profound self-identification of Jesus as the vine and we as the branches has reverberated down the centuries as a message to be treasured. Bold it was indeed, because Jesus was replacing a well-known description of Israel as a vine with Himself. We need not be wine merchants to grasp the meaning. The fact that Jesus was and is the perfect medium to express who God is and what He is about in His plan for salvation brings comfort to our Faith and enlivens our Hope.

What the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate seal of approval from God the Father of all that Jesus said and did. In a time when “transparency” has become so necessary in the popular culture worn out by so much political scheming and even by questionable behavior of some senior Church prelates, we can rejoice in the straightforwardness of Jesus. He spoke the truth and lived it even when it was unpopular. Even when it invited hatred and inevitably crucifixion.

How do we maintain our connection with Jesus as branches in our time? How do we avoid the trap set by our contemporary culture to believe whatever the media touts as true? The answer is right before us in today’s Gospel passage. “My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Bearing fruit becomes our job. Preserving true loyalty to Christ is the only way to “live and move and have our being.” That in turn leads to our own resurrection. But do we get the message?

The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proof of a portrait, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the studio and arrived with these angry words: “This picture does not do me justice!” The photographer replied. “Sir, with a face like yours, you don’t need justice, you need mercy!”

God love you and give you His peace.

Rev. Peterson’s Reading & Gospel Summary

Reading I: Acts 9: 26-31

Paul is at first much feared by the disciples because of his past persecution of them. But his conversion led to the peace described here.

Reading II: 1 John 3: 18-24

The test of one’s acceptance by God is the willingness to do “what pleases Him,” namely loving one another as He commands.

The Gospel: John 15: 1-8

Jesus describes Himself as the true vine, replacing the older image of Israel as the vine. The disciples, representing Jesus in the world, give glory to the Father.