By Lisa Zengarini
The Parable of the Vine and the Branches “challenges our contemporary Western understanding of individualism” and tells us that there is “no such thing as a solitary Christian,” says Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam.
Unity in Christ
In his homily for the Diocesan virtual pilgrimage to the Knock Marian Shrine held on Sunday, the Archbishop emphasized the importance of “closeness and unity“ in Christ as opposed to contemporary individualism, saying that “the efficacy of the community derives solely from its relationship to Jesus.”
The parable of the Vine and the Branches
Commenting on the Sunday Gospel reading on the Vine and the Branches, he said that Jesus' call “to remain” in Him is an “urgent requirement”.
Archbishop Neary added that it “highlights the consequences of not maintaining our connection and our relationship to Christ”: that of becoming “withered like dead branches which no longer draw life from the vine.”
Christ also needs us
Archbishop Neary also pointed out that “just as between the vine and the branches”, there is "a mutual interdependence between Christ and ourselves.”
“Jesus was dependent on Mary, his Mother, in order to enter our world. God was dependent on Mary to accept the invitation to become the Mother of Jesus,” he noted. “We depend on Jesus for support and encouragement as we cope with difficult situation in our lives” but “the Lord is dependent on us to support each other and make others aware of the Lord’s availability, his presence and his love in their lives.”
The Archbishop remarked that even in our modern societies that place "a high value on independence”, “we are more dependent on others than we might be inclined to admit.”
“We know in life itself how much support and encouragement mean, particularly if we are in situations of doubt and puzzlement,” he said. “It may be a parent, a teacher, a friend, a religious or priest who comes to the rescue, senses the situation in which we find ourselves and encourages and enables us to undertake and to accomplish tasks which we would be reluctant to take on.”
Jesus’ parable on the vine and the branches “highlights the branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,” concluded Archbishop Neary.