I am the vine. You are the branches. Homily for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter (Cycle II)

A man died.
He came before the throne of God to be judged, and he made his case.
“I served the poor; I gave from my time, talents and treasures to serve the poor and the Church!” God replied, “I am pleased with that, but it is not what I wanted from you.”
“I taught in the seminary. I prepared men to be priests for the Church!” And God sighed, “Thank you, but that wasn’t the heart of my vocation for you.”
“I served as a priest in your Church! I wore myself out in service of you and the people of God!” God shook his head, “But you missed the most important thing I wanted.”
The man was at a loss. “What, then? What more did you want from me?”
“I want you.”

No matter what we do for others, for the Church, or even “for” God, if do it solely of our own strength, in the end, we will fail. Pope Francis has repeatedly warned the Church that she must not become just another NGO; there are plenty of NGOs in the world. The job of the Church is to sanctify the people of God. The job of the people of God is to sanctify the world. But, we can’t give what we don’t have. Holiness comes from the Lord. True holiness flows into us from a relationship with the true vine, Jesus Christ. We receive that participation in his holiness through the Sacraments and our own prayer – these allow us to abide in Christ, and so he can abide in us. We must remember that prayer is not a just a matter of talking to the Lord; that’s only part of it. In the words of Archbishop Hughes, “Prayer is infinitely more about communion than communication.”

So that is the invitation of Christ. Abide in me. If we abide in him, then we will “bear much fruit and become [his] disciples,” (John 15:8) and, by this, God is glorified. Then, we will be able to come before God’s throne when our time on earth is over and, far from telling what we have done for God, we will “report what God has done with [us].” (Acts 15:4)

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