In his Sunday Regina Coeli address Pope Francis focused on the parable of the vine and the branches, saying that it reveals the importance of uniting oneself to Jesus, who changes how we live. “Jesus is the life, and through him — like sap in a tree — the love of the same God, of the Holy Spirit, passes to the branches,” the Pope told attendees of his May 3 Regina Coeli address. “We receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes ours: we are able to think like him, act like him, to see the world and things with the eyes of Jesus.” As a result of this union, we are better able to love others, “beginning with the poorest and those who suffer, with his heart and bring into the world the fruits of goodness, charity and peace,” he said. Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly address. Before leading the crowd the traditional Marian prayer, he drew attention to Jesus’ use of the parable of the vine and the branches in the day’s Gospel reading, taken from John Chapter 15. Already getting close to the moment of his Passion and death, Jesus wanted to stress to his disciples the importance staying in communion with him, the Pope said. Even though he wouldn’t be with them physically, Jesus would be with them in a new way that would bear a lot fruit, he continued. However, if instead the disciples lost communion with the Lord, rather than bearing fruit they would become “sterile,” and damage the community. In the parable Jesus gives, “the branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which the source of their life is found. This is how it is for us Christians,” the Pope said. Thanks to our baptism we have received new life in Christ, and thanks to the Church we are able to remain in “vital communion” with the Lord through both prayer and the sacraments, he continued. Francis stressed the importance of daily prayer, of listening and being docile to the Word of God, reading the Gospel and participating especially in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession as particularly helpful in maintaining this communion. By remaining “intimately united” to Jesus, a person also harvests the fruits of the Holy Spirit, he said, which St. Paul names in Galatians as love, joy, peace, magnanimity, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. In cultivating these a person “does so much good to others and to society as a true Christian,” the Pope said, observing that a Christian is recognized “from these attitudes, as a tree is recognized by its fruits.” “The fruits of this profound union with Jesus are marvelous: our whole being is transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit: soul, intelligence, will, affections and even the body, because we are united in body and spirit,” he said. Pope Francis continued, noting that due to the “new way of being” we receive from this union with Christ, our own perspective changes and we are able to think and act like him, especially when it comes to the poor and suffering. He then said that each person, each branch on the “one vine” that is Christ, are all together “called to bring the fruits of this common belonging to Christ and to the Church.” The Pope concluded his address by invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that each person can be a living branch in the Church that gives a coherent witness to the faith.
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