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The Light of the Gospel
Dear brothers and sisters,
On Sunday, we will hear of another image of the Risen Lord: “the vine” with branches grafted on it, thus forming a single entity (Jn. 15:1-8). Appearing utterly simple, the imagery fills us with awe as it brings us to a more profound and life-transforming relationship with Him. “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”
In her message, Our Lady explains what She does for us, through our consecration to Her Immaculate Heart, in order to become fruitful branches. “This act has been taken seriously by me, and it has in itself the capacity of truly changing and transforming your whole life” (22 c). We will read Message 22, “The Light of the Gospel,” taken from the book “To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.”
I. GOSPEL READING (John 15: 1-8)
Jesus said 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 every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Points for Reflection
Jesus’ words bring to light His unique identity as both divine and human. On one hand, “I am” is God’s most holy Name; on the other hand, the “vine” is Israel. Since the latter has become barren, Jesus now takes up its true calling and fulfills it: to bear fruit for God. He is the “true vine” that God intended Israel to be.
In this vine, we are “the branches” whom the “vine-grower” prunes to make fruitful. The first pruning has already taken place with our “yes” to trust and follow Him. The pruning continues in the struggles that we face in real life, especially in carrying our crosses to follow Him and carry out our mission in life.
In this image, our relationship with Jesus moves up to another level: from being “with” Him to being “in” Him. “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” Like branches to the vine, we must be grafted onto His life in order to live and do His commandments. “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
This is a profound relationship, in which Jesus enters into us through His Spirit, cleansing and renewing us from within, and transforming us in Him. Described by Pope Benedict XVI as a “sacramental union” (not any particular sacrament, but rather the entire mystery of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection), it “unleashes a dynamic of new life, in which the command to do as Jesus did is no mere moral appendix to the mystery, but rather follows from the inner dynamic of gift with which the Lord renews us and draws us into what is his” (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, p. 62). Only in this way - changing us interiorly - will we be able to follow him and carry out his work.
An example of this is St. Paul in the Second Reading (Acts 9:26-31). Once a fruitless branch in Israel, his mystical encounter with Jesus puts new life into him – Jesus’ own life – and he was changed totally. This is what St. John means in the Second Reading (1 Jn. 3:18-24). We keep the commandments of Jesus and remain in him, not by our own strength, but “from the Spirit he gave us.” What gives us “confidence in God;” is our “sacramental union” with Jesus, even if “our hearts” make us feel uncertain before him, “for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.”
This “union” is not about the union among people in the world. It is a rooting and growing in Jesus, which begins in baptism and is constantly strengthened through the other sacraments in diverse ways. With this, a community is formed among the baptized, making up the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, the visible expression of Jesus, “the true vine.” It is a living body, in which the life-giving Spirit that Jesus radiates flows to all the branches (Eph. 5:23, 30).
Now, here is the fruitfulness of the vine and branches. When we are “in” Him, our prayers will be answered; all the works that He left us will be accomplished. The answers, whenever and however they come, will show forth God’s glory. This is the unshakeable confidence we should have when we let what Jesus says sink in: “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.”
This is the heart of the Eucharistic mystery, as the Catechism of the Church teaches us: “For all their works, prayers and undertakings (e.g., family and married life, daily work, relaxation), if they are accomplished in the Spirit (even the hardships of life if patiently borne), all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist, these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives” (CCC 901). This makes us the fruitful vineyard, whose harvest glorifies God and blesses and sanctifies the whole of creation. What a beautiful harvest!
October 20, 1973
Points for Reflection
The Gospel tells us that we have a profound life-transforming union with our Risen Lord like “branches” in the “vine.” In this message, Our Lady explains what She does for us, through our consecration to Her Immaculate Heart, in order to become fruitful branches.
Our consecration to the Immaculate Heart basically consists of entrusting our life completely to our Blessed Mother. She takes very seriously this great and decisive act. From the time we consecrate ourselves, our whole life, the good that we do, even the wrong we have done and the defects we possess no longer belong to us: “all is mine; all belongs to me” (13 g, 22 d). Taking possession of everything in us, She transforms us “bit by bit, according to my will” (22 d). Her Immaculate Heart is a “furnace of most pure fire” (18 e), in which we receive a special grace that burns all, consumes and transforms all (13h, 18 e). This is why She says that consecration to Her Immaculate Heart “has in itself the capacity of truly changing and transforming your whole life” (22 c).
The transformation that Our Lady does through our consecration is our perfection in Christ - “Little by little I will transform you into a very faithful image of my Son Jesus” - something that is “pleasing to (her) Heart” (22 e). This is the path of perfection that St. Louis Marie de Montfort taught: a Marian path. “Mary is the great mold of God, fashioned by the Holy Spirit to give human nature to a Man who is God by the hypostatic union, and to fashion through grace men who are like to God. No godly feature is missing from this mold. Everyone who casts himself into it and allows himself to be molded will acquire every feature of Jesus Christ, true God, with little pain or effort, as befits his weak human condition. He will take on a faithful likeness to Jesus with no possibility of distortion, for the devil has never had and never will have any access to Mary, the holy and immaculate Virgin, in whom there is not the least suspicion of a stain of sin (The Secret of Mary, 18). Mary is present throughout the entire journey to guide the soul and lead it to a full sharing in the mystery of Christ, and through him to the Trinity.
Through our consecration, Our Lady helps us into a new way of living.
In this perfection, Our Lady wants us to let the light of the Gospel “shine anew in this world so filled with darkness.” She is with us in this task: “to be this light in the great darkness” in order to save many in these decisive hours. Assuring us of victory, “there will soon be a new world, entirely renewed by the beauty of my Son and illumined by his light” (22 n-p).
God bless you all!
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
This reflection is shared with all cenacle and other prayer groups (priests and laity), communities and Marian organizations, associations and movements within and outside of the Philippines, with Our Lady’s words transcribed verbatim for those who do not have copies of the messages. This may also be shared with private individuals for their personal use.
Our Lady's messages are taken from the book: "To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons", a compilation of 604 messages in the form of locutions given by the Blessed Virgin Mary through Fr. Stefano Gobbi of Italy.
Imprimatur: Bishop Donald W. Montrose, D.D., 1998
Archbishop Francesco Cuccarese, 2007