Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Vine, the Branches and the Eucharist

The kids in my Confirmation class were confirmed earlier today in two celebrations at my parish. (We had 115 of them, so it was necessary to split the group.) In class on Wednesday, my 22 kids and I talked at length about the image of Jesus as the vine and us as the branches, which, it happens, is the Gospel reading for this weekend. The discussion went in a direction I had not anticipated, but actually, it was the right direction. Here are a few highlights...
  • If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches on that vine, he is the only reason we thrive and bear fruit. 
  • If we are cut off (or cut ourselves off) from the vine, we will become dead branches - and there will be no fruit.
  • Jesus, the true vine, nourishes his people through his sacrifice. He offers this connection if we become his friends, which we become by doing what he asks of us.
  • We never do this alone - we are all connected - all Catholics in the parish, the diocese and around the world.
  • Initiation into full membership in the community through Baptism and Confirmation grafts us onto the vine and makes us a part of it.
  • The faith community (all the branches together) gathers each weekend to be nourished by the Eucharist, which is the chief way that the vine nourishes us
  • Therefore, going to weekend Mass, being nourished by the Word and receiving Eucharist on a regular basis, is the most important thing we can do to maintain our identity as branches on the vine. 
What I hope they took away from Wednesday's session and today's experience is a sense that they belong to Jesus Christ and to his community, the Body of Christ.  The beautiful image of the vine and branches is an organic one - the relationship is the most natural thing in the world. The branches take their very identity from the vine to which they are attached and rooted to the earth. We, too, take our identity from Jesus -and all that we do should reflect our connection to him. 

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