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Notes from Fr. Vitalis

Without Me You Can Do Nothing, Says The Lord

Dear Parishioners,


The conversion of Saul was not enough to make him welcome among the community of the Believers because of his bad reputation as one who persecuted the early church. It took someone like Barnabas to step in and introduce him to the community of believers. Barnabas was the bridge builder for Saul who became Paul and a great evangelizer years later.


As we continue to celebrate the joy of Easter, we thank Jesus for being our bridge builder between us and God. His suffering, death, and resurrection reconciled us and grafted us into the life of God. He made us one with God. That is the reason the Church takes fifty days to celebrate Easter. “O sing a new song to the Lord, for he has worked wonders in the sight of the nations. He has shown his deliverance.” (Ps. 98)


This Easter message of life in the risen Christ continues in today’s gospel of the vine and the branches. Using the image of the vine, Jesus draws our attention to the bond we share with him. God the Father is the vine grower, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. This intimate relationship is made possible by the sacrifice on the cross.


Last Sunday we had the image of Jesus the good shepherd and his flocks: our leader and guide. Now the relationship between Jesus and the believers is expressed in terms more intimate and personal. It opens the door of friendship that strengthens the bond between Jesus and his followers. This mirrors the mutual love and unity of Father and Son, through which Christ gives assurance of the Father’s response to our prayers.


Without this bond, we cannot bear fruit. Failure to bear fruit results in a severance of the branch. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” This image is simple enough to understand. If the branch is not attached to the trunk, it will dry up and wither. It becomes useless and no good. But if a branch is firmly attached to the trunk, it receives the life-giving juice it needs, although it must be pruned and kept clean, so that its fruit will be abundant and tasty.


This image of the vine also speaks to us about the importance of stability and faithfulness. Staying with Jesus is a necessary condition for survival. We cannot achieve holiness on our own. We cannot forge triumphantly in the world without the one who won victory over sin and death. Our lives depend on him.


The parable also points us to the ongoing growth of the branch which requires trimming as a sign of transformation. To be holy implies change and growth with the help of God. We are dynamic people subject to graces God freely gives. When graces are properly received, they purify us and ensure an abundance of fruit. Just as the Father is glorified by the obedient death of his Son, so also does our virtuous life give glory to God.


In his letter, Saint John writes, “Let us love in deed and in truth, and not merely talk about it.” Love must move from word to action, from spoken belief to lived truth. We can also achieve this if we abide in him who has power to transform us. Jesus is as intimately one with us as he is with the Father. This bond produces the good we can do.


However, when we allow sin to grow in us it destroys this bond of love and intimacy. Therefore, observing God’s commandment is necessary. What does the commandment entail? It demands believing in God’s Son and loving one another.  Our faith must come to life in action. When Paul received the grace of conversion, he never looked back. He gave his life entirely for the gospel.


Sincerely Yours In Christ,

Fr. Vitalis Anyanike, Pastor