Celebrant: Jesus teaches us that we depend on the love of God and one another. With courage and faith, let us present our needs to our Father.
That the Church may continue to make Jesus known to the world through words of hope and works of love, we pray to the Lord...
That world leaders may cooperate with one another in an effort to seek peace and prosperity for all, we pray to the Lord...
That bishops and priests may never fail to proclaim the Gospel even in the face of adversity or trial, we pray to the Lord...
That our love may express itself in concrete actions of visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and protecting the unborn, we pray to the Lord...
That each member of our parish community may realize their call to stewardship and generously cooperate through sharing time, talent, and treasure, we pray to the Lord...
That those who live in Christ and followed his commandments in this life may be part of God's harvest of souls on the Last Day, we pray to the Lord...
Heavenly Father, the vine grower, we ask that your Spirit may work in and through us so that we may bear much fruit for your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God makes no Distinctions
On February 27, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said the following in a talk to the Pontifical Academy for Life:
“The sacred books, in fact, set out to show God's love for every human being even before he has been formed in his mother's womb.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you" (Jer 1: 5), God said to the Prophet Jeremiah. And the Psalmist recognizes with gratitude: "You did form my inward parts, you did knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for you are fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are your works! You know me right well" (Ps 139: 13-14).
These words acquire their full, rich meaning when one thinks that God intervenes directly in the creation of the soul of every new human being.
God's love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother's womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness (Gn 1: 26) in each one.
He makes no distinctions because he perceives in all of them a reflection of the face of his Only-begotten Son, whom "he chose... before the foundation of the world.... He destined us in love to be his sons... according to the purpose of his will" (Eph 1: 4-6).”
1 Jn 3:18-24
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The Lord’s words in the Gospel passage for today speak about what Easter has accomplished: a new human community, that takes birth from the Spirit and is filled with the very life of the Risen Christ. We all descended from Adam on a natural level; we all are built into Christ on the supernatural level. He is the new Adam, and Easter began the new humanity, victorious over the grave and sharing the life that lasts forever.
This supernatural community, symbolized by vine and branches, obviously builds on the natural community. To enjoy supernatural life, we must have natural life, and to appreciate the meaning of supernatural community, we must have some appreciation of natural community. In our day, however, the very notion of “community” even on a natural level has been obscured by false notions of freedom that separate everyone into his or her own sphere of “choices” and purely personal evaluations of what is true and right. The fruit of this freedom disconnected from truth is the Culture of Death, in which people think that they have responsibility only to those for whom they choose to take responsibility.
In the natural and supernatural community established by God, however, we have responsibility before we choose. God (not we) has chosen the other branches on the vine, the other members of the community. We must welcome them all, although, as the First Reading demonstrates, it can be challenging to overcome our prejudices.
But here is where the “fruit” comes in. The Lord says we must “bear fruit.” What is this fruit? It is the fruit of love, concretely visible in a life of self-giving, as the commandments specify (Second Reading). The fruit that is to be visible in the community is that we welcome and serve all – born and unborn, healthy and sick, convenient and inconvenient. We can’t do it on our own power. That’s why we have to stay united to the vine. It is the power of His love in us that makes it possible for us to love as he has commanded, with the very same love that led Christ to the cross and to the glory of the Resurrection.