FRIDAY HOMILY: Stewards of the Vineyard
of fruit we ought to see coming forth from our little part of the vineyard. If wild grapes are being produced, there is something wrong!
Good fruit can only be produced if we have made it possible for the branches that bear the fruit are fully and effectively connected to the trunk, so that the essential life of the vine can be received.
One of the most startling changes in God's vineyard was revealed by Jesus as He left the Upper Room and headed to the Garden of Gethsemane. Passing close to the Temple in Jerusalem, with its prominent golden vine, Jesus uttered these words, "I am the true vine."
What a statement for the disciples to hear! For millennia, Israel had established covenants with the living God that established the vineyard. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob all were a part of that very old trunk. Now, Jesus, who was joined to them in His humanity, adds something new.
God now begins something new and fresh with Him. Partly of the old vineyard, God the Son invites a direct relationship where the sap of the vine is the Spirit Himself, allowing divine life to flow through the branches - the people of His Church. We are now invited to experience a personal relationship with God Himself; we are being called to ascend into Him.
The law will no longer be needed as a hedge or wall around us, for it will be placed within our hearts to govern us. As Ezekiel prophesied, "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ez. 36:27) This will now become an inside job where fruit of our lives will not come only by conformity but as a part of our essence.
The Church, built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, with Peter as our rock, has continued now for many centuries bringing forth the fruit of the vineyard for the life of the world.
The temple was destroyed in 70AD and with it, the golden vine disappeared as a sign. For us as Christians, we see the vineyard continuing to flourish, having been given over to another. Throughout history there have been problems and issues; of that there is no doubt. Sometimes the vineyard looks like it is in need of some repair. Yet, God has been faithful to raise up in history those who would bring guidance and direction that the vines would again be pruned and that godly fruit would be borne on its branches.
In 2006, Blessed John Paul II shared these words in a homily: The Church herself, then, is the vine in the gospel. She is mystery because the very life and love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the gift gratuitously offered to all those who are born of water and the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3:5), and called to relive the very communion of God and to manifest it and communicate it in history (mission): "In that day", Jesus says, "you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you" (Jn 14:20)
We are living out that communion together as the Vine of God. Through Him, and conveyed by His sacraments of love, we are made new and the fruit we bear on our branches can be a message of life to the world.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus." He is currently the chaplain of the St. John Fisher Ordinariate Community, a priest in residence at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church and Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Ordinariate.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Church, vine, vineyard, Pope Benedict, Stewardship, faithfulness, fruit
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