The Gospel for May 6, 2012 - the Fifth Sunday in Easter - has the familiar story about the vine and the branches. We are, of course the branches, and Jesus is the vine. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.
“I am the vine, you are the branches”
the Gospel text last week Jesus is quoted as saying: I am the Good
Shepherd. In this week’s Gospel he says, "I am the true vine." He will
always be there and will always bring us all the nourishment we need. As
baptized Christians, Fr. Phil Bloom assures us, you and I have a bond with Jesus even
more intimate than a mother and her tiny child. Like the mother who
nourishes the unborn child with her own blood, Jesus sustains us.
However, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino cautions, it is not enough for us to say, “God loves me,”
we have to be united to the vine for His Love to flow into us. We have
to want to be related to God. And we must bear fruit. And what kind of
fruit ought we to bear? Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says we must realize
that the harvest is one of souls for heaven.
Our task is in fact to continue the work of Christ in the world. In
order to know what to do we must look at his life and imitate him as
best we can.
Father Cusick tells us that we must seek the opportunity for daily participation in the liturgy.
We must draw from the Eucharistic sacrifice the life-blood of Christ
the vine that we may bear fruit that will last: heart, mind, soul and
strength aflame with God's love unto life eternal!
Pruning the Vine
prune a plant is to cut some of its branches off. Jesus mentions this
twice in our Gospel reading. Speaking as the vine, He says that the
Father “takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and
every one that does he prunes, so that it bears more fruit.”
But Jesus does not tell us to grow fruit. He tells us that In five
verses. Instead, Fr. James Gilhooley points, our Lord tells us eight
times to abide in Him. That's the secret.
And abiding in Jesus includes being part of the life of the Church,
committed to the daily and weekly fellowship of his people, in mutual
support, prayer, common worship, sacramental life, study and not least,
work for the Gospel in the world.
So drink in your overflowing share of trust at Sunday’s table of the
Lord. Let the Word instruct you, let the body and blood of Christ, which
was pruned to almost nothing, fill you and shape you. Trust the
steadiness of Jesus’ gardener hand, says Fr. John Foley, S.J., even while suffering. It is precisely during those times, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, that our souls are being shaped in ways we cannot understand but in ways that will stretch and widen them for a deeper love and happiness in the future.
"Without me you can do nothing."
Life in Christ is a gift freely given and, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains, a gift freely accepted.
Tragically, because there is freedom, the life and love of Christ can
be rejected. And that was the situation Stacy Trasancos found herself in
a few years ago. Lost and broken, her first 42 years of life was full
of self-induced pain. Today she knows deep joy and peace because she is
accepting the abundances of Truth and Love. And she tells her story
because as shameful as it is, it is real and needs to be told so others
will know the dangers of life without a moral compass.
Jesus is the vine. And we are summoned to ‘abide,' to ‘live,' to make
our home ‘in Him.' Just like Stacy and many others, He draws us into a relationship with Him that is as life-giving as the relationship between a vine and its branches. For when we are connected to Jesus through the sacraments and to humanity, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS assures us, we experience blessings beyond measure.
It is precisely in every Eucharistic celebration where we are drawn into
that intimate fellowship both with Jesus himself and with each other at
Catholic Social Awareness
May 1 was the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and it didn’t seem to get much attention. That struck Omar Gutierrez as odd in an election year
so caught up with issues of the Catholic faith and Catholic social
teaching. We remind ourselves that by means of hard labor in the shop,
St. Joseph taught the young Jesus what it was to work by the sweat of
the brow and so taught him the glorious and invigorating fruit of a work
that made the Son of God even more human.
it is this highlight on humanity that brings Catholic social teachings
on Solidarity and Subsidiarity to the forefront during this pivotal
election year. Cong. Paul Ryan, the House budget chairman, has put
forward a plan that challenges the religious left. But what drives Mr.
Ryan's religious critics bonkers is not his numbers. It's his claim that his policies reflect Catholic principles.
At Georgetown he summarized one of the differences he has with the
protesting professors this way: "I do not believe that the preferential
option for the poor means a preferential option for big government."
And speaking of Life issues, the dean of the Roman Rota, speaking at a
conference in Rome, suggested the need for a more rigorous
interpretation of a provision in canon law that is cited in many
annulment cases. This is expected to impact American Catholics who lead the world in the number of Catholic annulments requested and granted.
Prayer, Faith & Being Good Without God
Anyone with a regular prayer life can attest to the great variation from one prayer time to the next.
And while a simple study of Scripture may not be what we want, Andrew
Sciba says it is what God wants for us, today. We should be happier to
pray as we are led by the Holy Spirit than to pray as we want.
Bo Sanchez adds shock value. He says a spiritually mature person is equally at home in her prayer meeting and doing her laundry.
She is spiritually at home attending Holy Mass and shopping in a mall.
Why? Because if God is her home, and if God is everywhere, then she is
at home everywhere.
While Fr. Dwight Longenecker shares a question that time and again the
middle-aged Catholic mother will ask him, "I can't get my kids to go to
Mass. Why don't they go to Mass anymore?" His answer shocks them: "Your
kids don't go to Mass because they don't believe the Catholic faith."
Mass attendance is down. Maybe that's because we don't realize the
radical claims of Catholicism. So can we be good without God?
Confession, Justification & Conversion
In his ministry as a deacon today, Mike Bickerstaff still hear
non-Catholics speak these words “Have you been saved?” and also of
“justification” in connection to “being saved.” What does the Church
teach about justification and salvation? What must I do to be saved? The
good deacon offers "Seven Lessons Every Catholic Should Know About Justification." This is a must read for all Catholics.
And in discussing the Catholic faith with non-Catholics, the Sacrament
of Reconciliation ranks right up there with Marian Dogmas among the
Church’s teachings that prompt the most questionsh. He lists in this
article the five most common Protestant objections to the doctrine and he shares with us the best way we can respond to each one.
Tyler Rosser shares the story of Chris, a young college student with a
diamond stud in each of his ears, baggy plaid shorts, and a yellow
t-shirt doing sweet tricks on his Razor scooter. Little did he know that
six months later, Chris’ actions, as well as the actions of three of
his teammates, would bring Tyler and his wife to joyful tears in front
of the Blessed Sacrament. It's the story of how the sacraments changed four student-athletes.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: What are the four marks of the True Church?
FEATURED BLOG: Can You Be Good Without God?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Cristo la Vid Verdadera
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