DON’T SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM JESUS
The image is simple and of great expressive power. Jesus is the «true vine», full of life; the disciples are the «branches» who live from the sap that comes to them from Jesus; the Father is the «vinedresser» who personally takes care of the vineyard so that it bears abundant fruit. The only thing that’s important is that we go about making a reality his project of a world that’s more human and happy for all.
The image highlights where the problem is. There are dried-up branches because the sap of Jesus doesn’t flow through them. Disciples who don’t bear fruit because the Spirit of the Risen One doesn’t run through their veins. Christian communities who languish because they’re disconnected from his person.
That’s why we find an affirmation heavy with intensity: «the branch can’t bear fruit if it doesn’t remain on the vine»: the life of the disciples is sterile «if it doesn’t remain» in Jesus. His words are categorical: «without me you can do nothing». Don’t we find here unveiled the true root of the crisis of our Christianity, the internal factor that cracks her foundations like nothing else could?
The way many Christians live their religion, without a vital union with Jesus Christ, won’t last much longer: it will end up reduced to a folkloric anachronism that will provide no one with the Good News of the Gospel. The Church won’t be able to bring to completion her mission in today’s world if those who call ourselves «Christian» aren’t converted into disciples of Jesus, empowered by his Spirit and his passion for a more human world.
Being Christian today demands a vital experience of Jesus Christ, an interior knowing of his person and a passion for his project that wasn’t required in order to be a practicing member within a society of Christiandom. If we don’t learn to live out a more immediate and passionate contact with Jesus, the decadence of our Christianity can be converted into a mortal sickness.
We Christians today go around concerned about and distracted by all kinds of questions. It can’t be otherwise. But we mustn’t forget what’s essential. We’re all «branches». Only Jesus is «the true vine». It’s decisive in these moments to «remain in him»: place our whole attention on the Gospel, nourish a living contact with him in our groups, networks, communities and parishes; don’t separate ourselves from his project.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf