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Monday, December 10, 2007

Abiding in Christ

We've all heard that Jesus is the Vine and believers are the branches and that we must 'abide' in the vine. How does a person "abide" in the vine; that is to say, how do Christians abide in Jesus Christ our Savior? Do we abide by having faith? We all need faith in our daily journey towards our heavenly reward but that's not it. Do you abide by prayer? Prayer is important, no doubt about it. We need prayer but that's not exactly it either. Do we abide by participating in our faith? Now we're getting closer to the answer. In John 15 Jesus tells us He is The Vine and that we are the branches and that we must bear good fruit (good works) to remain part of The Vine. If we fail in this, holy scripture says the branch will be cut out and tossed into the fire. In Matt. 25:31-46 Jesus talks about the Sheep & the Goats. What separated the Sheep from the Goats was their works. The Sheep did good works, they fed the hungry and clothed the naked and visited those in prison and gave water to those who were thirsty. The Goats did none of these things, they were devoid of good works and Jesus said to them "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."-(Matt.31:45-46). Clearly we need not only to have faith but to act out our faith with good deeds. Jesus is saying you can't sit in the boat and say you have faith, you need to take action and show your faith as Peter did when he stepped out of the boat onto the water. When Peter wavered in his faith, his actions began to sink him but Jesus was there beside him. Jesus is still here beside us now, offering us support when we waver and fall short. One place to find this support is in our sacraments, namely Penance (Confession). If you fall, go to Confession and make things right again. We need to hold tight to our faith and bear good fruit so that we are not cut off and tossed into the fire. We should desire to abide in Christ above all things and live our lives pleasing to God. Not just our words but also by our actions (deeds or works). Jesus says the way to abide in him is by Holy Communion (John 6:56). If we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we abide in Christ. This is the very core of our Catholic mass. This is why attending mass is so very important for Catholics. The sacraments are vital to us abiding in Jesus Christ. These are not to be taken lightly or treated as valueless 'options' to take or leave. For Catholics they are essential. Attending mass is essential. Going to Confession is essential. We need to understand the sacraments and their importance to us and our Lord. If we fail to abide in Christ we will have put our very salvation in jeopardy. He is The Vine and we are the Branches only if we abide in Him.

John 15
The True Vine
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

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John 6:50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me."

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