Today’s Gospel presents to us Jesus during the Last Supper, in the moment in which death is close at hand. His “hour” has come. He is with his disciples for the last time, and now wants to impress well in their minds a fundamental truth: that even when He is physically no longer in their midst, they will be able to remain united to Him in a new way, and thus bring much fruit. If one, on the contrary, loses communion with Him, he would become sterile, nay, harmful for the community. And to express this reality, this new way of being united to Him, 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). With this image He teaches us to remain in Him, to be united to Him, even though He cannot be physically present.
Jesus is the Life, and through Him – like the sap in the tree – passes the same love of God to the branches, the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are the branches, and through this parable Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to Him. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which they find the source of their life. It is like that for us Christians. Grafted with the Baptism of Christ, we have received from Him freely the gift of new life; and thanks to the Church we can remain in vital communion with Christ. We must remain faithful to Baptism and grow in friendship with the Lord through prayer, daily prayer, through the listening and docility of His Word- to read the Gospel – in the participation of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
If one is intimately united to Jesus, they rejoice in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that – as St. Paul tells us – are “love, joy, peace, magnanimity, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, meekness, dominion of self” (Gal. 5, 22); and consequently does so much good to both neighbour and to society: It is a Christian person. From this attitude, in fact, it is recognized if one is a true Christian, as from the fruits the tree is known. The fruits of this profound union with Jesus are marvelous: our whole person is transformed by the grace of the Spirit: courage, intelligence, will, affections, even the body, because we are unity of spirit and body. Let us receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes ours: we can think like Him, act like Him, see the world and things with the eyes of Jesus. Consequently, we can love our brothers and sisters, starting from the most poor and suffering, with his heart and bring thus in the world fruits of kindness, of charity and of peace.
Each one of us is a branch of the one vine; and all together we are called to bring fruits of this common belonging to Christ and to the Church. Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary so that we may become living branches in the Church and to give witness to our faith in a coherent way – a coherence of life and thought, of life and faith – aware that all of us, according to our particular vocation, participates in the unique salvific mission of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father said the following words:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I give a cordial welcome to all those who have come from Italy and from so many parts of the world!
Yesterday, in Turin, Luigi Bordino, consecrated lay person of the Congregation of Brothers of Saint Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo was declared Blessed. He dedicated his life to the sick and suffering people, and he spent himself tirelessly in favor of the poorest, medicating and washing their wounds. Let us thank the Lord for this humble and generous disciple.
I give a cordial greeting today to the Méter Association, on the Day of Child Victims of Violence. I thank you for the commitment in which you look to prevent these crimes. We all should commit ourselves so that every human person, especially children, are always defended and protected.
I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present today, too many to name each group. I greet those who have come from Amsterdam, Zagreb, Litija (in Slovenia), Madrid and Lugo, both in Spain. I joyfully welcome the many Italians: the parishes, the associations and the schools. A particular thought goes to the young men and whom who have or will receive Confirmation.
To all I wish a good Sunday. And please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!