People can't be good Christians if they do not choose to remain in Jesus, Pope Francis said.
"We cannot be good Christians if we do not remain in Jesus. With him, though, we can do everything," the pope said before reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer May 2 with visitors in St. Peter's Square.
"Attached to Christ, we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in this way we can do good to our neighbor, we can do good to society, to the church," he said.
The pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading (Jn 15:1-8) in which Jesus tells his disciples, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing."
Jesus presents himself as the true vine to which his disciples can remain united when they abide in him and vice versa.
It is an active, reciprocal relationship, the pope said, because branches "need sap to grow and to bear fruit; but the vine, too, needs the branches, since fruit does not grow on the tree trunk."
"It is a question of a reciprocal abiding so as to bear fruit. We abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in us," he said.
Christians must be united to Christ and remain in him before they observe his commandments and the beatitudes, and before performing works of mercy because "we cannot be good Christians if we do not remain in Jesus," he said.
However, Jesus also needs disciples, "he needs our witness," Pope Francis said.
The task of all Christians as Christ's disciples "is to continue to proclaim the Gospel in words and in deeds" so that the fruit that is borne may be borne out of love, he said.
A fruitful life, the pope said, depends on prayer in which one asks to see, think, feel and act like Jesus in order to love others and "bring to the world fruits of goodness, fruits of charity, fruits of peace."