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.