The vine and the branches

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

ONCE again, we are reminded in the gospel of Wednesday of the 5th Week of Easter that Christ is the vine and we are the branches. In short, we need to be united to Christ if we want to continue living and bearing fruit as befits our dignity as children of God, created in his image and likeness and meant to share his divine life. (cfr. Jn 15,1-8)

Yes, only in and with Christ can we have the real principle of unity and fruitfulness amid the varying conditions in our life. We would be fooling ourselves if we fail to recognize this basic truth about ourselves.

This, of course, is a truth of faith, not so much of science. And that’s where the problem lies. There is a crisis of faith in the world, especially involving those who rely more on their human abilities than on belief in Christ.

It’s a phenomenon that can call to mind two contrasting dramatic stories in the Bible. One is the story of the Tower of Babel, and the other is the story of Pentecost.

In the episode of the Tower of Babel, those who survived the flood have multiplied and have gotten so intoxicated by their powers and good fortune that they now want to reach heaven by their own efforts alone, by building a tower.

God intervenes, as he always does in our life, and confounds them by making them speak different languages so that they would not understand each other anymore. The project ends in total failure, and new troubles emerge for the people.

The story of Pentecost offers a counterpoint. We have different people speaking different languages. But since they believe in God, they are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is how they get to understand each other.

They are not made into a uniformed mass. The differences are respected and even fostered. And yet there is unity among them, with a certain focus of attention that is a result of such unity.

We have to reiterate the truth that we need Christ who is our “way, truth and life” with God to have a solid, genuine unity of life and an unwavering focus even in the midst of so many things in our life.

Christ himself expressed this ardent desire very clearly when just before his passion, death and resurrection he prayed that we become “perfectly one” (“consummati in unum,” in Latin) and we be one with him (“utu num sint”).

We have to realize that the redemptive mission of Christ was meant to make us one with him, living members of his mystical body which is now referred to as the Church. It’s a unity that not merely a result of some natural forces, achieved social, cultural or political laws, but a unity of spirit, of mind and heart, much like the unity that exists between the God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It’s a unity that is the fruit of God’s grace that is corresponded to generously by us.

Insofar as God is concerned, all the means are given for us to be united and fruitful with him. What is needed is our generous correspondence to his will and ways.

Strengthening our unity with Christ insures us that we would be on the right track toward the goal proper to us, that we would be effective in what we are doing, and healthy and resistant to anything that can weaken us or lead us astray.