When we abide in Jesus, He enables us to do more than we could ever imagine…
Today, May 13th, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis gave this powerful reminder during his private daily Mass, streamed from his residence Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican News.
At the start of the Mass during this global coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis prayed specifically for students and teachers.
“We pray today,” the Pope said, “for students, the boys and girls who study, and for their teachers who need to find new ways to continue educating.”
“May the Lord,” he prayed, “help them on this path and grant them courage and success.”
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel, according to St. John (Jn 15:1-8), in which Jesus says to his disciples: ‘I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.’
The Pontiff went on to reflect on how important it is, that we remain always in Jesus.
“It will do us good to think and reflect on this: to abide in Jesus; and Jesus abides in us,” he said.
“To abide in Jesus,” the Holy Father elaborated, “is to have the lymph, the strength, to have justification, gratuitousness for having fecundity. And He abides in us to give us the strength to [bear] fruit (Cf. John 5:15), to give us the strength to witness with which the Church grows.”
He then encouraged faithful to ask themselves the following: “how is the relationship between Jesus, who abides in me, and me, who abide in Him?”
“It’s a relationship of intimacy, a mystical relationship, a relationship without words. “But Father, let the mystics do this!” No, this is for all of us, with little thoughts: “Lord, I know that You are there: give me the strength and I will do what You’ll say to me. But I must abide in Him . . .”
Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord help us to understand and feel this mysticism of “remaining”: of the branches that need to remain on the vine, and the vine that needs the branches to bear the fruit of testimony.”
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.
The Masses at Santa Marta will stop being streamed as of Monday, May 18th.
It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.
On May 4th, the country entered its so-called ‘Phase 2′, where it will slowly relaxing some of the lockdown restrictions.
Public Masses in Italy with the faithful will resume on Monday, May 18th, according to a statement of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. There will continue to be various safety measures in place, in order to protect the faithful.
In Italy where more than 30,000 people have died from COVID19, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been twelve cases of coronavirus in the Vatican, confirmed a recent statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The Vatican Museums are closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is published below.
FULL HOMILY [working translation by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]
The Lord returns to His “abide in Me,” and says to us: “Christian life is to abide in Me” — to abide (Cf. John 15:1-8). And He uses here the image of the vine, as the branches abide in the vine. And this abiding isn’t a passive abiding, a falling asleep in the Lord: this would be, perhaps, a “beatific sleep,” but it isn’t this. This abiding is an active abiding; it’s also a mutual abiding, why? Because He says: “Abide in Me, and I in you” (v. 4). He also abides in us, not only we in Him. It’s a mutual abiding. In another part He says: My Father and I “will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). This is a mystery, but it’s a mystery of life, a most beautiful mystery is this mutual abiding. Also with the example of the branches: it’s true, without the vine the branches can do nothing because the lymph doesn’t flow; they need lymph to grow and bear fruit. However, the tree, the vine needs the branches, because fruits aren’t attached to the tree, to the vine. It’s a mutual need; it’s a mutual abiding to bear fruit.
And this is the Christian life: it’s true that Christian life is to obey the Commandments (Cf. Exodus 20:1-11); this must be done. Christian life is to follow the way of the Beatitudes (Cf. Matthew 5:1-13); this must be done. Christian life is to carry out works of mercy, as the Lord teaches us in the Gospel (Cf. Matthew 25:35-36), and this must be done. But, it’s more: it is this mutual abiding. Without Jesus, we can do nothing, as the branches without the vine. And He — may the Lord permit me to say it — seems unable to do anything without us, because the branch bears the fruit, not the tree, not the vine. In this community, in this intimacy of “fruitful abiding,” the Father and Jesus abide in me and I abide in Them.
There comes to mind, what is the “need” that the vine’s tree has of the branches? It’s to have fruits. What is the “need” — let’s say it thus, with a little daring — what is the “need” that Jesus has of us? Witness. When He says in the Gospel that we are light — He says: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16), that is, witness is the need that Jesus has of us. To give witness of His name, because faith, the Gospel grows through witness.
This is a mysterious way: Jesus glorified in Haven, after having gone through the Passion, is in need of our witness to make grow, to proclaim, for the Church to grow. And this is the mutual mystery of “abiding.” He, the Father and the Spirit abide in us, and we abide in Jesus.
It will do us good to think and reflect on this: to abide in Jesus; and Jesus abides in us. To abide in Jesus is to have the lymph, the strength, to have justification, gratuitousness for having fecundity. And He abides in us to give us the strength to [bear] fruit (Cf. John 5:15), to give us the strength to witness with which the Church grows. And I ask myself the question: how is the relationship between Jesus, who abides in me, and me, who abide in Him? It’s a relationship of intimacy, a mystical relationship, a relationship without words. “But Father, let the mystics do this!” No, this is for all of us, with little thoughts: “Lord, I know that You are there: give me the strength and I will do what You’ll say to me. But I must abide in Them . . .
May the Lord help us to understand, to feel this mysticism of abiding on which Jesus insists so much, so much, so much. Often, when we speak of the vine and the branches, we stop at the figure, at the profession of the farmer, of the Father: that [branch] that bears fruit he cuts, namely, he prunes, and what he doesn’t prune he cuts and throws away (Cf. John 15:1-2). It’s true, He does this, but it isn’t all, no. There is something more; this is help: the trials, the difficulties of life, also the correction that the Lord does to us. However, let us not stop there. Between the vine and the branches there is this intimate abiding. We, the branches, are in need of the lymph, and the vine needs the fruits of witness.
The Pope Invited the Faithful to Make a Spiritual Communion with this Prayer:
My Jesus, I believe that You are really present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. As I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As if You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.
Pope Francis ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. Finally, on the occasion of today’s Memorial two stanzas of the Hail Mary of Fatima were intoned:
On the thirteenth of May
To three little shepherds
In Cova d’Iria.
Hail, hail, hail Mary,
O beautiful Queen
Who reign in Heaven
Italy bows to You
Invokes You, faithfully.