As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him,
The Council at Jerusalem
15 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had [a]great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.
A Song of Ascents, of David.
122 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
3 Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together;
4 To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of [a]the Lord—
[b]An ordinance for Israel—
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
5 For there thrones were set for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He [a]prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already [b]clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit [c]of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so [d]prove to be My disciples.
Excerpt from Commentary on Acts 15:1-6
The issue at stake was circumcision. Many of the early Christians, especially those in Jerusalem, were converts from Judaism. And among these were Pharisees. They believed that Christianity was simply a development of their Jewish faith and not a renunciation of it and that they should continue observing their Jewish traditions. Circumcision, like many of the other practices of the Jews, was, at least for men, a crucial identifying mark of God’s people, even though the original reason for the practice may well have been hygienic and preventive. (Nor was it by any circumstances a custom confined only to the Jews of ancient times.) With the acceptance of Gentiles into the Christian community, the issue of circumcision became a delicate one. Should the new non-Jewish converts be forced to undergo such a painful (and perhaps in their view a disfiguring) operation? Was it really central to the Christian identity?
Excerpt from Commentary on John 15:1-8
The vine is an image we find elsewhere in the Old Testament. Jesus uses it as a symbol of the Kingdom of God; all who belong to the Kingdom are part of the vine. The fruit of the vine can also be understood of the Eucharistic celebration. It also represents a life lived according to the vision of Jesus, a life filled with unconditional love. Jesus is explaining to us what our relationship with him can be like and indeed should be like. He compares himself to a tree, basically to the trunk of the tree. The cultivator of the tree, the one who gives it life, is the Father God. Jesus’ disciples are the branches. It is the branches which bear the fruit. If a branch does not bear fruit, it is simply cut off. It is no good; it is just draining life from the trunk without giving anything in return. What does this pruning consist of? Jesus explains: “You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide, stay in me, as I abide and stay in you.” We are pruned, then, by our total identification with everything that Jesus stands for and by constantly cutting out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus.