In last Sunday’s Gospel Jesus spoke of his relationship to us with the image of the Good Shepherd. It is an image of nurturing and protection. In today’s Gospel he speaks of his relationship to us with the analogy of a vine and its branches. It is he who gives and sustains our life and makes us fruitful. “Without me you can do nothing.” The fruit that God desires of us is a virtuous life. This is what Saint John teaches in the Second Reading: “[God’s] commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.” Both readings speak of our “remaining” in Christ and his “remaining” in us. There is a real unity between him and us; and because we are all branches of the one vine, there is a unity among all of us believers as well. Therefore if the whole organism, the Church, is to be alive and healthy, we must love one another, “not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
Note further that in both the Second Reading and the Gospel, there is the promise to those who are sincere in faith that God will give them whatever they ask or want. God has only our good, our life, our salvation at heart. If we are truly united to him in heart and mind, we will also know what to desire. We will not desire that which is harmful or sinful, but only what is good and holy. These are gifts God bestows in abundance to all who desire them.
This great season of grace continues this week as Confirmation is conferred upon young people from both parishes this Sunday afternoon, at St. Charles Church, at 1:00. Second graders from St. Peter Parish will receive their First Holy Communion during the 9:00 Mass next Sunday, May 9. The Church is enriched and renewed by the grace of these sacraments effective in the lives of her members.
An important feast occurs this week on Friday, May 7: the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral. Because the Cathedral is the diocesan church, it is the home and mother church of all Christ’s faithful in the La Crosse Diocese. The anniversary of its dedication is ordinarily celebrated throughout the diocese for this reason. This is a feast not so much of the building, but of the Church—the community of the faithful which gathers within it, especially under the leadership of the diocesan bishop, to hear the word of God and to celebrate the mysteries of faith, especially the sacraments. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, the feast of the dedication of a church is considered to be a feast of the Lord. This Friday, then, we celebrate our identity as a diocese, symbolized by our Cathedral church.
Thanks to all who made a pledge to the Christ Our Cornerstone Campaign for the repair of our Cathedral church. Friday’s feast reminds us why it is so important that all of us in our diocese contribute to the upkeep of this church which the faithful of our diocese contributed to build. The work is well under way.
Pray the rosary this week for the young people from our parishes who are being confirmed this Sunday afternoon, that they may be lifelong active members of the Church. Pray for good weather for a productive planting and growing season. Pray for the needs of the Church in our diocese and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.