Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Last Sunday, the Lord Jesus spoke of the intimacy of the relationship between him and his sheep: “I know my sheep and mine know me.” Using the image of the Shepherd who leads his flock to the pastures, he says that the Shepherd walks in front of the sheep and they follow him because they recognize his voice. Today, the image becomes even more intimate. The Lord does not simply speak of mutual knowledge (I know my sheep and mine know me). Rather, he speaks of an indwelling. He does not speak merely of himself walking in front of his sheep. He speaks of himself as dwelling in us: “I am the Vine, you are the branches…remain in me as I remain in you…whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing.”
Using the image of the vine and branches, our Lord describes his relationship with us as a vital, a life-giving relationship. Our communion with him gives us life. It is he who gives us life. St. Augustine said: “The branches do not confer any advantage upon the vine, but receive their support from it: the vine supplies nourishment to the branches, takes nothing from them: so that the abiding in Christ, and the having Christ abiding in them, both are for the profit of the disciples, not of Christ.” The vine gets its nourishment from the soil and distributes it to the branches. The Lord Jesus, who is the vine, receives the life-giving Spirit from the Father. It is the Lord Jesus who gives the Holy Spirit to the branches attached to him. So long as we are in communion with the Lord Jesus, we are alive. Apart from Him, we can do nothing because apart from Him, we are dead. Only as long as we are united in Him will we continue to receive the Holy Spirit. Only then can we continue to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity (kindness), Goodness, Long-suffering (patient suffering over an extended period), Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continence, and Chastity. The presence of these fruits in our lives is the sign of our communion with Christ the true Vine. These fruits are the signs that we are truly alive!
Our Christian life is marked by our communion with Jesus. Let us do all we can to preserve the supernatural life which we received in Baptism. We do this by the frequent reception of Holy Communion and by regular Confession. It would do us good to avoid anything that would endanger our life in Christ. In this way, we will abide in him as he abides in us.
Let us remain with Jesus so that we can remain with the Father. Let us abide with Jesus so that we can live in the Holy Spirit. Remaining with Jesus we have nothing to lose. Remaining with Jesus, we have everything to gain. St. Paul said, “To me, life is Christ.”
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!