By Linda Bordoni
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 mujst 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.”