Pope Francis addresses the faithful on the fifth Sunday of Easter and reflects on how in order to bear witness to Christ, it is necessary to be united with Him and abide in HIm actively,
Commenting on the Gospel of John (Jn 15, 1-8) in which the Lord presents himself as the true vine, and speaks of us as the branches that cannot live without being united to him, Pope Francis explained that just as we need the Lord, Jesus needs us.
Speaking during the Regina Coeli prayer in St Peter’s Square, the Pope said that “There is no vine without branches, and vice versa. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, which is the source of their existence.”
He noted that the Gospel reading of the day repeats the verb “to abide” seven times,
“Before leaving this world and going to the Father, Jesus wants to reassure his disciples that they can continue to be united with him,” the Pope explained, adding that “This abiding is not a question of abiding passively, of “slumbering” in the Lord, letting oneself be lulled by life.”
The abiding in him that Jesus proposes, he said, is abiding actively, and reciprocally.
A reciprocal need
In fact, he continued, the branches cannot grow and bear fruit without the vine, just as the vine needs branches since fruit does not grow on the trunk of the tree.
“It is a reciprocal need; it is a question of abiding reciprocally to bear fruit,” he said.
First of all, Pope Francis said, we need Him: “before the observance of his commandments, before the beatitudes, before works of mercy, it is necessary to be joined to him, to abide in him.”
“We cannot be good Christians if we do not abide in Jesus. And yet with him, we can do everything,” he said.
But Jesus too, he added, like the vine with the branches, needs us.
An audacious concept?
Noting that this, of a reciprocal need, may appear to be an audacious concept, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask themselves “in what sense does Jesus need us?”
“He needs our witness,” he said.
After He ascended to the Father, He recalled, it was the disciples’ task, and it is our task, to continue to proclaim the Gospel in words and deeds.
We must do so, he said, by bearing witness to His love: “the fruit to be borne is love.”
Only by remaining united to Christ, the Pope explained, do we “receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in this way we can do good to our neighbour and society, to the Church.”
“A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ,” he said.
The fruitfulness of our lives depends on prayer
Concluding, the Pope recalled Jesus’ words “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you,” and explained that the fruitfulness of our life depends on prayer:
“We can ask to think like him, to act like him, to see the world and to see things with Jesus’ eyes. And in this way, to love our brothers and sisters, starting from the poorest and those who suffer the most, as he did, and to love them with his heart and to bring to the world fruits of goodness, charity and peace.”
Pope sends Easter greetings to Orthodox and Eastern Churches
Pope Francis sends his greetings to our brothers and sisters who celebrate the Solemnity of Easter according to the Julian calendar. He also expresses sorrow for an accident in Israel and recalls the beatification of a doctor in Venezuela who dedicated his life to the poor.
By Linda Bordoni
Addressing the faithful after the Regina Coeli Prayer in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said he sends his Best Wishes to our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Churches and of the Eastern and Latin Catholic Churches who today, according to the Julian calendar, celebrate the Solemnity of Easter.
“May the Risen Lord fill them with light and peace, and comfort the communities living in particularly difficult situations. Happy Easter to them!” he said.
Grief for tragic accident in Israel
Pope Francis also turned his thoughts to all those affected by an accident at a religious festival in Israel on Friday in which many people were killed and injured.
“With sadness I express my closeness to the people of Israel because of the accident last Friday on Mount Meron, which caused the death of forty-five people and numerous injuries. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for the victims of this tragedy and for their families,” he said.
The nation is observing a national day of mourning on Sunday after a stampede at the Jewish Orthodox B’Omer festival, near Mount Meron in northern Israel killed 45 men and boys and injured some 150 others.
Beatification of José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros
And during his words to those present in St. Peter’s Square the Pope recalled the beatification last Friday, in Caracas, Venezuela, of José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros.
“He was a doctor, rich in science and faith. He knew how to recognise the face of Christ in the sick and, like a Good Samaritan, he helped them with evangelical charity”, he said.
“May his example help us to care for those who suffer in body and spirit,” he concluded asking for applause for the new Blessed.