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Pope’s Sunday Talks Focus on Unity in Christ

John Burger - published on 05/03/15

Francis preaches at the Vatican and a parish church

From the window of the apostolic palace high over St. Peter’s Square to the pulpit of a parish church in Rome, Pope Francis spent Sunday reminding people of the importance of communion in Christ.

During the Sunday Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis spoke about Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches. Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches, dependent on Him, he said, according to Vatican Radio. Through this parable, "Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to Him." Although Jesus is no longer with us as He was with the Disciples, we are able to remain united with Christ "in vital communion" through the Church.

“Jesus is the vine,” Pope Francis said, “and through Him, the very love of God passes” to us, “the branches.”

“The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, in which is found the source of their life. So it is with us Christians. Grafted by Baptism in Christ, we have freely received from Him the gift of new life, and we are able to remain in vital communion with Christ.”

Those who are "intimately united to Christ" are filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Our whole being is "transformed thanks to the grace of the Spirit: our souls, our understanding, our will, our affections, even our bodies." United with Christ, His life becomes our own, and we are able "to think like Him, to act like Him, to see the world and the things in it with the eyes of Jesus." And so we are able to love our brothers, "especially the poorest and those who suffer the most," with the Heart of Jesus, and so bear fruits of goodness, charity, and peace in this world."

Each one of us, Pope Francis said, is a branch of the one vine that is Jesus; and all of us together are called to bear the fruits of this common membership in Christ and in the Church."

Later, during a Mass he celebrated at the parish of Regina Pacis (Queen of Peace) in the Roman suburb of Ostia, the Pope focused on the words of Christ at the Last Supper: “Remain with me.” The Christian life, he said, consists precisely in remaining in Jesus. “To remain in Jesus means to be united to Him, to receive life from Him, to receive love from Him, to receive the Holy Spirit from Him.”

If Christians must seek this unity in Christ, it must be reflected in the interaction among generations in the Church. Before Mass, the Holy Father met with members of the parish, including they elderly and the sick. He spoke about their wisdom of life, which comes from experience, an experience that has the wisdom of sorrows and of patience.

“It is a wisdom we often forget,” he said. But the elderly have an experience of life that they hand down to their children, giving them “the memory of our people, the memory of our family.” The sick, he said, are similar to Jesus in their suffering: they suffer with Him, and bear the Cross as Jesus did. In that sense, they are privileged. Pope Francis spoke, too, about the children of the parish, who will carry life forward—with the wisdom, the patience, the constancy of those who go before them.

The Pope also met with families who have had children baptized within the past year. Baptism, Pope Francis said, is a beautiful step to take. It is the beginning of the life of faith, which children receive from their parents. The children recently baptized are the latest in a chain that goes back all the way to the beginnings of Christianity.

But he warned parents not to drift away from the Church after their children are baptized. Pope Francis said it is important to be with the children in their journey of faith, to walk with the children in their new faith, and to stay close to the local parish.

Pope Francis also heard the Confessions of several parishioners immediately before the Liturgy.

Pope Francis
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