Pope Francis: “Bear the fruits of membership in Christ and the Church”

Vatican Radio (Sunday 3rd May)

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

The Gospel of today shows us Jesus during the Last Supper, in the moment He knows His death is close at hand. His ‘hour’ has come. For the last time He is with His disciples, and now He wants to impress firmly in their minds a fundamental truth: even when He will no longer be physically present in the midst of them, they will still be able to remain united to Him in a new way, and so bear much fruit. And we can be united to Jesus in a new way. And what is this way? If, on the contrary, one should lose this union with Him, this communion with Him, he would become sterile, or rather, harmful to the community. What is this new way? And to express this reality, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches, and He says: “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.” And with this figure He teaches us to remain in Him, to be united to Him, even though He is not physically present.

Jesus is the vine, and through Him – like the sap in the tree – the very love of God, the Holy Spirit passes to the branches. Look: we are the branches, and through this parable, Jesus wants us to make us understand the importance of remaining united to him. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which is found the source of their life. So it is with us Christians. Grafted by Baptism in Christ, we have freely received from Him the gift of new life; and we are able to remain in vital communion with Christ. We must remain faithful to [our] Baptism, and grow in friendship with the Lord through prayer, daily prayer,  listening and docility to His Word, reading the Gospel, participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Is one is intimately united to Jesus, he enjoys the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are – as Saint Paul tells us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). And these are the gifts that come to us if we remain united to Jesus. And consequently, a person who is thus united does so much good for the neighbor and the society, he is a Christian person. In fact, by this attitude you can recognize if someone is a true Christian, as a tree is recognized by its fruit. The fruits of this profound union with Christ are wonderful: our whole person is transformed by the grace of the Spirit: [our] soul, understanding, will, affections, and even [our] body, because we are united body and soul. We receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes our own: we are able to think like Him, to act like Him, to see the world and the things in it with the eyes of Jesus. And so we are able to love our brothers, beginning with the poorest and those who suffer the most, as He has done, and to love them with His heart, and so bear fruits of goodness, of charity, and of peace in the world.

Each one of us is a branch of the one vine; and all of us together are called to bear the fruits of this common membership in Christ and in the Church. Let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, so that we might be able to be living branches in the Church and witness to our faith in a coherent manner, a real coherence of life and of thought, of life and of faith, knowing that all of us, according to our particular vocations, participate in the one saving mission of Christ.

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