Our Gospel this weekend takes us back to John’s account of the Last Supper. On his final night with the disciples, Jesus gives simple yet challenging words to sustain the faith of his followers: “Abide in me as I abide in you.” Pope Francis says that this is the core of Christian life—to abide in Jesus, to unite ourselves so closely with him to receive his life and love, to never tire of seeking him and imitating his example. When we fully abide in Jesus, we submit our desires to God’s own will and desire for us. We make ourselves susceptible to receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit while also accepting correction and pardon for what we have done wrong. Jesus tells his disciples that abiding in him means holding fast to his word and growing outward from his teaching, just as a branch is attached to a vine but extends forth when nourished well. We grow outward as branches from Christ the true vine and our actions bear fruit when we pattern them after Jesus. We practice works of mercy in welcoming the stranger, forgiving the sinner, comforting the sorrowful, and responding to the physical and spiritual hunger of our neighbors. Sustained by prayer, the sacraments, Scripture, and the support of fellow Christians, may we branch out with zeal to bear fruit in the world, firmly connected to the vine which feeds us and the vine grower who trims us back in love to increase our yield.
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. 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. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
I know that my Redeemer lives; what joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives, my everlasting Head.
He lives to bless me with His love; He lives to plead for me above;
He lives, my hungry soul to feed; He lives to help in time of need.
He lives and grants me daily breath; He lives and I shall conquer death;
He lives, my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there.