By Daniel Hughes, Director of Catechesis
At our recent joint Parish Mission hosted by St. Andrew’s Parish, our Youth Minister Kim McMillan and I had the opportunity to share a Children’s Liturgy on this week’s Gospel with some of the 4 and 5 year olds in our parishes. After explaining what a “vine” is, we were able to get them to understand that the gardener is God the Father, the vine is Christ, and we are the fruit. We asked them to think about how they can bear good fruit in their lives. Of course, you can only go so deep into the parable with 4 and 5 year olds before you need to stop for a “dance party” break, but we did go a bit into how they can stay connected to Jesus.
How can we stay connected? Jesus told the disciples that if they do not stay connected they could not bear fruit. When we are not connected we are not able to experience God’s love and our faith weakens. We can stay connected by having a personal relationship with Christ, but we also must be connected to our entire faith community. We may be tempted to cling and reach out to vines, alternative, vines that may give us a temporary sense of belonging and community, but they are only temporary or false. Without a connection to the true vine, we will become lost again, disconnected to Christ, and disconnected to our faith community that sustains us in the long term. Many today prefer to keep their faith to themselves, but without that connection to the larger community that faith will not be sustained.
When we are a visible presence in our community it helps to sustain others. When we see others decorating the Church, teaching our young people, feeding the homeless, and visiting the elderly, we have a visible picture of how we sustain each other and stay connected. Our society teaches us to value individualism, but only by helping others and relying on each other can we strengthen our faith community and strengthen our own faith, our connection in turn.
I invite you all to think about some ways you can stay connected or become more connected as we continue to journey through this Easter Season. Christ said “I am the vine.” In what ways can we stay connected to the vine and bear good fruit? At St. Ben’s we are blessed to offer so many ministries to keep us connected, and that is what truly helps strengthen our faith, and our entire faith community.