Thursday, June 7, 2018

5th Sunday of Easter: Life with the Vine

APRIL 29, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Easter Season celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead. Here, we honor Christ, the Lamb who was slain but now, who lives forever. The risen Jesus is the Lord of life. He is not just living. He is Life itself.

This is what he means when he says: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.” He is the source of the life of all those who are in communion with him. A branch, as long as it is attached to the vine, is alive. It grows and bears fruit. But a branch that is severed from the vine is dead. It withers and is thrown into the fire. The Lord said: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

And so, each of us must ask himself: Am I alive or dead? The sign of the death of the body is the cessation of the lung and heart function (that is, breathing and beating of the heart). On the other hand, the death of the soul is the cessation of communion with God. That is why we should ask: Am I attached to the vine or am I severed from it? St. John Climacus said: “A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services.” It may seem to be too simple for a complicated matter but it is really true. Father, hindi lang nagsisimba, patay na agad ang kaluluwa? Hindi ba pwedeng tinatamad lang o busy lang? How is the avoidance of church services related to the dying of the soul?
The Lord Jesus said: “Remain in me as I remain in you.” How do we remain in the Lord? We remain in him by communion in mind, will, and body. Communion of mind means that I believe in Christ and in his teachings. Faith is the assent of the mind to the revelation of God. Communion of the will means that I obey the teachings and commandments of Christ. St. John said in the 2nd reading: “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandment remain in him, and he in them,” Communion of the body means that I receive regularly the sacraments of Christ which are visible signs of his invisible grace. Sacraments are related to the body because we cannot perceive what does not pass through the senses. The Holy Spirit is invisible. Grace is invisible. Therefore, the coming of grace has to be done through the perceptible or sensible signs of the sacraments. Through the sacraments, Christ continues to bestow on us the Holy Spirit. The sacraments help us remain in Christ and in his grace. We receive these sacraments when we attend church services. This is why by attending Church services, we continue to receive life from the Lord. Can the mind say something and the body do the opposite? Can the heart say something and the body do differently? How can you say, “I believe in Christ and I obey his will” if my body avoids going to Mass? Surely, the body will do what the mind and the heart dictate.

The life of Christ in us will definitely show in the fruits that we bear. Charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, and chastity are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are the signs that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. They are signs of life of the soul. We will bear such fruits only if we remain in communion with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who keeps us in Christ. It is only in Christ that we can do all things. Only in Christ are we alive!

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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