A Child of God the Father – The Vine Grower

Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Easter

When her father was dying of Alzheimer’s, she promised to be with him to the end. A career nurse, she was confident that she could care for him during his difficult final days. After pneumonia set it, death was imminent – or so it was thought. She remained at his side, taking care of all his physical needs as he slipped in and out of consciousness.

But her dad continued to hang on. She was determined to keep her promise to him: that he had nothing to fear, that he would not die alone, that she would stay with him until the end.

But after three weeks, she was physically and emotionally exhausted.   She could not continue. She remembers:

“This one particular evening, I was thinking, this is it. I couldn’t do it anymore. The next day was my birthday, and I was trying to figure out how to tell my dad,

You know, I love you. I’m sorry. I know I made this promise, but I just can’t really keep at it.

“This nurse came in she was going home, and she was leaving for the evening. She came in to say goodbye to me and slipped me this little brown bag. And in it was a small bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. And she said, ‘This is just for you. You know, maybe you could drink this and you’ll be able to get a little sleep tonight.’

“She went and got this herself. This had nothing to do with work. This was just a human connection . . . she saw I was suffering, too, that it was difficult for me, and, the long and short of it is: I drank my Bailey’s Irish Cream that night, I stayed with my dad, it was a very, very long difficult night, and my dad died at 7 in the morning.

“I don’t think it was until after my dad had died that it really struck me. Without that small gesture of kindness from this nurse, I probably would have left that night, and my dad would have died alone. That seemingly small gesture was important to me, and is something that I won’t forget.”

Today’s Gospel calls us to realize the connections between Christ and us and between us and one another. As branches of Christ the vine, we are part of something greater than ourselves, something which transforms and transcends the fragility of our lives. In our simplest acts of kindness and most ordinary offerings of help and support, may we realize and celebrate our connections to one another in the Risen One.

As that woman caring for her dying father knows a simple kindness extended from one nurse to another, one daughter to another, mirrors Jesus’ final words to his disciples: that we are connected to one another through Christ and in Christ; that we are branches of the same “vine,” a vine that is the source of nurture and support in the life and love of God. In the spirit of Easter transformation, may we possess the love of the Easter Christ to realize and rejoice in our belonging to each and every person who, like us, is a child of God the Father, the vine grower.