Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Vine and the Branches

I am the vine; you,the branches
Paul was a rabbi who suddenly had a visionary experience of the living Christ.  Thereafter, his passion in life was to proclaim everywhere he went the good news or Gospel: Jesus is alive!  And because He lives, we live—in God’s triune life.  Paul overcame obstacles, founded churches, wrote letters to these communities, was jailed for creating controversies, and eventually was martyred.

At the center of God’s plan for us is Jesus Christ: the eternal Word who became flesh, the mystery of the Incarnation.  Jesus is the image of the invisible God and in him all things hold together.

The Gospel according to John describes, in the metaphor of a vine and branches, the relationship of Jesus to you and me and all Christians.  Just as branches can’t bear fruit unless they are connected to the vine, so too we cannot do good works unless we are connected to the living Christ.

Yes, Christ connects us to the branches, the global Catholic Community today, yesterday and tomorrow; a community that will push forward until Jesus Christ comes in glory.

I like three things in particular about our 1.2 billion global Catholic community.

First, we remember and celebrate the awesome presence of living Christ in our midst—Jesus Christ who is our way into eternal life, our truth who sets us free and our light who scatters our darkness. We retell the stories of Jesus. We recognize the presence of God all around us: in the beauty of nature, in courageous people, in signs where we encounter sacramentally the living Christ. The Spirit lives within this community, within you and me, and can fire us up to do wonders for God.

The second thing I like about belonging to this Catholic community is that we are a family.  A global family that stretches back to early Christianity, and that will continue until Jesus Christ returns to transform this multi-universe into a kingdom of peace and justice and truth.  This family lives under a huge tent and everyone can fit as we open wide the doors to Christ.  We have to strive to do good.  We have to forgive ourselves and one another, let go of burdens of guilt, let go of resentment and bitterness, and get our lives back on track.

And I like that the Catholic family takes a stand on peace and justice.  I think of the statements of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.  I think of shelters, hospices, soup kitchens, literacy programs, hospitals and schools all over the world that our Catholic Community sponsors. I think of agencies such as Catholic Relief Services, Caritas, and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, to name but a few, who do so much good.

May the image or metaphor of the living Christ as the vine and we as the branches inspire  you and me, to produce good works on behalf of others.

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