Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Like a branch is part of a vine "Christians cannot distances themselves from communion with the Risen Christ. If, on the contrary, one should lose communion with Him, he would become sterile, or rather, harmful to the community." This was Pope Francis’ reflection this morning before the Marian Regina Caeli prayer. He was speaking of today's Gospel, on the Last Supper, "when Christ knows that death is near. His time has come".
For the last time, the Pope explained, " 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. If, on the contrary, one should lose communion with Him, he would become sterile, or rather, harmful to the community. And to express this reality, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches: “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."(Jn 15: 4-5).
Jesus is the vine, he stressed, "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 thanks to the Church we are able to remain in vital communion with Christ. We must remain faithful to [our] Baptism, and grow in intimacy with the Lord through prayer, listening and docility to His Word, participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation"
If one is intimately united to Jesus, “he enjoys the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are – as Saint Paul tells us – are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22); and consequently does so much good for the neighbor and the society, like a true Christian. In fact, one is recognized as a true Christian by this attitude, 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, with His heart, and so bear fruits of goodness, of charity, and of peace in the world".
Each of us, said the Pope before the Marian prayer, "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 intercession of 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, knowing that all of us, according to our particular vocations, participate in the one saving mission of Jesus Christ, the Lord".
Immediately after the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted pilgrims in St. Peter's Square and recalled that yesterday Luigi Bordino, consecrated layman of the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo was beatified in Turin: "He dedicated his life to sick and suffering, and worked relentlessly in favor of the poorest, medicating and healing their wounds. We thank the Lord for this humble and generous disciple ".
The Pope also had a "special greeting" for the Meter Association, marking Italian Day to raise awareness of child victims of violence: "I thank you for your commitment to try to prevent these crimes. We must all work to ensure that every human person, especially children, is always defended and protected. " Finally, before the usual "Pray for me", he had a "thought especially" for young Italians about to make their Confirmation.