"I meet you, O Christ, face to face. I see you in your Sacraments." Saint Ambrose (Photo of Haditha Dam, Iraq.)
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Fifth Sunday of Easter: "I am the vine."
Acts 9, 26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3, 18-24; John 15, 1-8
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
"Jesus says, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:5)
"The fruit referred to in this saying is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, partake of his mysteries, and keep his commandments, the Savior himself comes to love, in us, his Father and his brethren, our Father and our brethren. His person becomes, through the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our activity. 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.' (Jn 15:12)" (CCC 2074)
The branches exist to draw life from the vine so as to bear fruit. Failing to do so they are useless: cut down, thrown out, good only for fueling the flames of a fire. "If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." (Jn 15: 6)
So that we may live as fruitful branches in intimate union with Christ, the true vine, he has given us the Church, his true body in the world.
"The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may 'bear much fruit.' (Jn 15: 8,16)" (CCC 737)
The Church is not a way to Christ, as simply one choice among others, but the way to Christ. "Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity." (CCC 738)
St. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria (d. 444), teaches why our communion with the Triune God happens in the fullest and most perfect way in this life in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church:
"All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father's and his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us,...and makes all appear as one in him. For just as the power of Christ's sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all, leads all into spiritual unity." (CCC 738)
Seek the opportunity for daily participation in the liturgy; draw from the Eucharistic sacrifice the life-blood of Christ the vine that you may bear fruit that will last: heart, mind, soul and strength aflame with God's love unto life eternal!
Let us pray: God our Father, look upon us with love. You redeem us and make us your children in Christ. Give us true freedom and bring us to the inheritance you promised. (From opening prayer for today's liturgy.)
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy" -Father Cusick
MCITL 10th Anniversary: The Catechism and Scriptures together in the Sunday homily
"The integration of elements of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the readings from the Lectionary offers us an opportunity to demonstrate how the Word of God is able to animate our personal and communal life with Christ and, at the same time, articulate the Church’s faith that has been immeasurably enriched by the living tradition of twenty centuries."-- Archbishop Donald Wuerl, intervention at the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God