Monday, May 15, 2006
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit
John 15: 5
New life is springing up all around us - in greening gardens and longer days, at bar-b-cues and ballgames, at weddings and christenings. The isolation of winter is broken. We've celebrated the Resurrection and moved into the 50-day period between Easter and Pentecost that the Church calls Easter Season. Less familiar in the liturgical calendar than Lent or Advent, this is a glorious time.
In Acts it is the time when the risen Christ moves among his disciples. He walks with them, dines with them, works with them. He explains, teaches and inspires -- leaving his mark on the frightened fishermen who would soon become towering evangelists, saints and martyrs. When blessed by the Holy Spirit they took their faith out from the upper room to the ends of the earth. But wherever they went the branches were bound to each other and to the vine in a vital, resilient spiritual union.
They were the first members of the Body of Christ that now covers the earth in our billions. It has survived schisms and scandals, reformation and counter-reformation, dissent and concord, controversy and reconciliation. It reaches unbroken from the risen Christ to our parish family of St. John's.
By our natural birth we are all members of a human family that too often forgets that it is a family. But in Christ we are born again into a new family - a family so profoundly close that Christ compares it to the union within the living vine. Maybe we have all heard this doctrine so often with our ears, that we have not listened lately with our hearts. In a "multi-tasking" world, the message of this union with Christ, the primary purpose of our lives, can become sentimental background music to the expedients of our day.
Maybe the Mystical Body of Christ is too big and high-sounding a doctrine for us to easily grasp and make our own. Could a thing so glorious and glorifying actually be so? Knowing our own flaws and failings we are reluctant to accept that we really are what the scripture says we are. But it's true. Christ Jesus has chosen us, called us apart and joined us to Himself. So that now we seamlessly share His life. His grace and truth and love now spread out from us to the world around.
Later in John 15:16 He explains: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. Could we somehow have been built for such magnificence? Yes, that is precisely what the scripture proclaims. Christ takes us and grafts us onto His risen body. Let's take everyday of this wonderful season to bear His fruit. Through kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, humility, prayer and reflection --- He lives in us and we in Him.