Homily — 5th Sunday Easter MMIX 5/10/9

Homily — 5th Sunday Easter MMIX 5/10/9

I am the true vine . . . you are the branches.

If you ever have the good fortune to go to Rome and you’re near the Coloseum, I would highly recommend you pop into the Church of San Clemente and pay a visit.

The Church doesn’t look like much from the outside, and even isn’t that impressive inside either.  But what’s very worth seeing is the giant 900 year old gilded mosaic found above the Main Altar in the Apse of the Church, which many people think is the most impressive mosaic in all Christendom.

The Mosaic is about the size of this archway above me. Right in the middle of it is a kind of cartoon like image of Jesus crucified on the Cross, kind of like the Franciscan San Damiano Cross. (The Cross is about the same size as our Cross hanging in this archway).

What’s most unusual about this particular Cross is that at the base of it, where the Cross meets the ground, there’s this bush of big green leaves growing up from the ground, as if the Cross was shooting up from this giant head of Romaine Lettuce.

And growing out of the left and right side of this big green leafy bush at the base of the Cross is an enormous green vine which curls back and forth and fills the whole space of the mosaic with 50 Spirally branches, 25 on each side, shooting off from the One Vine emanating from the Cross of Jesus.

And in these branches you can see people working at their jobs, studying at school, praying at Church, you can see all kinds of birds and fish and animals living, you can see angels playing on musical instruments.

And at the very top of the Mosaic, right above the Cross, is the hand of God the Father reaching down and grabbing on to the top of the Cross, pulling the Cross and the Vine and the Branches all up to Heaven with Him.

This famous 12th Century San Clemente Mosaic is a visual depiction of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: I am the True Vine, you are the branches.

Jesus is the True Vine which brings forth the Fruit of Abundant Eternal Life, wherever this True Vine grows in our World, the dry barren desert becomes a lush garden of paradise.

It is interesting though, how Jesus emphasizes that He is the True Vine. There are many other Vines in this world that we can attach ourselves to, but the other vines are False Vines, weeds really, that bear bitter poisonous fruit, Jesus is the One True Vine that bears rich abundant fruit.

And as branches of Jesus the True Vine, in order for us to bear the fruit of a Holy Life, Jesus tells us that we need to remain attached to the Vine.

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. We certainly break ourselves off from Jesus the Vine when we commit serious sin, and then we need to go to confession to get grafted back on.

But we also fail to remain in Jesus when we get really wrapped up in the cares of this world. We should try on a daily basis to take time out for prayer, that we might get ever more rooted in Christ throughout the week.

Jesus says whoever remains in me . . . .will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

We can do everything with Jesus, and nothing without Him. But we should also remember that the reverse is also true in a way. Jesus also says to us “Without you, I can do nothing.”

Unless we branches remain in Jesus, His saving fruits of peace and love won’t come forth into the world.

As the saying goes, Jesus has no more hands in this world to care for the poor but our hands, he has no more feet to bring the Gospel to the world with but our feet, no mouth to proclaim it but our mouth.

May we remain more fully in Jesus the True Vine, that this Vine may again spread to all corners of our society and make a Garden of Paradise spring up on the earth.

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