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The True Vine
by Maria Franco
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“Make your home in me as I make mine in you.” John15:4

We all have a sentimental streak within us. At times this streak is so overpowering that it controls us rather than we controlling our emotions. Our heart melts at the slightest feeling and the tears well up in no time. This attitude can be determined to our soft hearts which can give rise to an overflowing dam of sentimentalism. There are days when we feel we are strong enough to conceal our emotions but again on other days, our emotions affect us more intensely than our hearts can withstand.

Thanks to modern technology hearts can connect faster than the thought takes place. Imagine when two hearts are connecting at the same moment, the marvel of time in that instance and the connection that they share is incredible. Like mental telepathy, each is attuned to the other, their hearts are forever online. The heart of one can never be apart from the other, both are on the same wavelength. A parallel can be drawn to the verse in the beautiful hymn; ‘Yahweh I know you are near.’ – “Where can I run from Your love? If I climb to the heavens, You are there; If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea, still I'd find You there.”

Another form of sentimentalism in its own is patriotism. I have always maintained that my city back home is the pulse of our nation and no other city can compare to the homely warmth that it offers, it will remain unsurpassed. These feelings stem from our attachment to the place where we belong and the memories that we hold dear. We are in fact, all Christian patriots called to stand up for our faith. This is a right given to us when we are called into God’s family at the time of our baptism. The love for our Lord and His sacraments is a sentimental bond between Heaven and earth, to taste the Living God. If we are given a chance to defend our faith even two thousand years after it all took place then our life has been worth living for our Lord in whatever way we have done our bit.

I am reminded of a beautiful scene in a movie that I watched a very long time ago, where a couple is climbing on a high mountain with the help of a guide in order to flee from pursuing enemies. Half way through, the lady’s strength fails and she can no longer continue the climb, so she beseeches the man to go on without her but he is not prepared to leave her alone, so the guide suggests that the man hold the lady tightly in his arms and let his strength and love flow from his heart to her own. So the man hugs the woman with all his might and after some time, she feels the warmth of his love and a renewed courage, this enables her to stand up and move forward and thus they escape from the enemies.

Something akin to this is narrated by our Lord when He declares that He is the True Vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit. He prunes us daily with His word and spirit. We live in Him and He in us. He is the main source of life. His strength flows into us, His spirit keeps us alive and thus nourished we can rise tall as His braches touching the very heavens.
I once read a beautiful poem on how two trees stood on opposite sides of a river bank, their branches almost touching each other in an embrace of sorts, offering hope and comfort. They depended on each other and passed their days gazing at one another. Alas! One sad day, a woodcutter comes along and strikes down one of the trees. The other tree is shaken to the core, unable to bear this separation, It uses all its might to hold on to the roots of the other tree down below the earth, in order to be still connected to the other tree. In this manner, they remain forever joined together.
Sometimes, we also do the same, we offer hope and comfort from afar, a branch in the distance but the shade very much near.

When we gaze at the Eucharist, it is our moment of connection with the Lord and however broken down we are, He continues to hold us with all His might so that we remain connected with Him. This is an incredible love, unsurpassed by any emotion which can always stand tall and remain forever interactive. We all belong to the vineyard of the Lord. When we offer our petitions to the Lord, grace is given without fail, it may not have been what we asked for, but the Lord blesses us in His own way and through His own understanding on how He wishes to prune us to bear fruit.

Pruning can be a painful process but the final result will be a tree bearing fruit in plenty as stated in Jeremiah 17:8; “He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Our communion with the Lord is very important, to live in His word and strength as Jesus himself exclaimed that He is the true vine and His Father the wine dresser. Let us allow the Lord to have His way with us as we grow and flourish in His vineyard.

Maria Franco

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