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Fifth Sunday of Easter

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, Fiat!

The Word of God, even on this Fifth Sunday of Easter, continues to indicate to us the way and the conditions to be a community of the Risen Lord. Last Sunday the relationship between the believer and Jesus the Good Shepherd was highlighted. Today the Gospel offers us the moment in which Jesus introduces himself as the true vine and invites us to abide in him so as to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:1-8). The vine is a plant whose branches form the whole; and the branches are only fruitful insofar as they are joined with the vine. This relationship is the secret of Christian life and John the Evangelist expresses this with the word ‘abide’, which is repeated seven times in today’s passage. “Abide in me”, says the Lord; abide in the Lord.

It means abiding in the Lord in order to find the courage to step outside of ourselves, from our comfort zone, from our limited and protected spaces, in order to cast ourselves into the open sea of the needs of others and to give a wide range to our Christian witness in the world. This courage to step outside ourselves and to advance the needs of others is born from faith in the Risen Lord and from the certainty that his Spirit accompanies our history. One of the ripest fruits that springs from communion with Christ is, in fact, the commitment to charity for our neighbour, loving brothers and sisters with self-sacrifice, to the point of the final consequences, as Jesus loved us. The dynamism of believers’ charity is not the result of strategies; it is not born of external stresses, of social or ideological concerns, but rather, it is born from the encounter with Jesus and from abiding in Jesus. For us he is the vine whose sap — that is, ‘life’ — we absorb, in order to convey into society a different way of living and self-spending which places the least in first place.

When we are intimate with the Lord, as the vine and branches are intimate and joined, we are able to bear the fruits of new life, of mercy, of justice and peace, derived from the Lord’s Resurrection. It is what the Saints did, those who lived Christian life in fullness and lived the witness of charity, because they were true branches of the vine of the Lord. But “to be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious.... We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, 14). We are all called to be holy; we must be holy with this richness we have received from the Risen Lord. Every activity — work and rest, family and social life, exercising political, cultural and economic responsibilities — every activity, whether small or great, if lived in union with Jesus and with the attitude of love and of service, is an occasion to live Baptism and Gospel holiness to the fullest.

On August 25, 1927 Luisa, writing in her diary, wondered what the relationship between her and Jesus might be. The Lord promptly answered her by saying that the relationships between them were like the relations that pass between the branches and the vine.

The vine forms the branches, and they receive the vital humor from the vine in order to vegetate from the vine, to clothe themselves with leaves and with grapes. So, there is such union between the vine and the branches, that the branches can neither be formed nor have life without the vine, and the vine would make no impression or display of itself, nor would it give any fruit without the branches. Therefore, there are such relations between the two of them, such bonds of union, that they form the same life and are inseparable from each other. And if they separate, the vine remains sterile, without display and without fruit, and the branches lose their life and wither. Now, the vine is Jesus and we are the branch. The relations between us and Him are inseparable; one is the blood that circulates in our veins, one the Will, one the heartbeat. Jesus forms our life, and we form His glory and His fruit if we live in the Divine Will. Jesus delights in resting in the shade of the thick leaves of our branch, and in picking the grapes of His vine, and in enjoying them as He pleases.

The most beautiful example of union with Jesus is Mary. Let us entrust ourselves to her in the coming month of May.

don Marco
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