Sunday 20 December 2015

Saint Polycarp 23rd February Saint Polycarpe le 23 février

“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser”, said Jesus.

Ap.2,8-11 Ps.30 Jn.15,1-8

Saint Polycarp 23rd February

“Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more. You are clean already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.Remain in me, as I in you.”

The vine thrives very well on the side of Palestine, because in this place there are all the favourable for this to occur : very good limestone earth, rainfall in the springtime, fine sunshine until it is time to pick the grapes ; the image of the vine and of its branches must have easily spoken to Jesus’ disciples. Who didn’t possess somewhere in the country a vineyard and a fig trees?

Any withered, old and rotten branches wouldn’t let the sap rise any more. We can compare these with those moments and choices in our own life, that are sterile for our faith and which shrivel up our hearts.

Polycarp was a man who was rooted in Love. He was a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist who had heard Jesus and seen him. Polycarp had had Saint Irene as a disciple.He had evangelised France from Lyon.

At his death, Saint Polycarp resembled more a loaf being baked on a log furnace lit by his killers rather than a martyr who was about to die – as the wind blew , a great light formed an arc around him. The fire that men had lit didn’t touch Polycarp who dwelled in the fire of God’s Infinite Love.

The Holy Spirit is always offered to us; He is the Sap which circulates in our lives rooted in the Love of the Father.

“As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains a part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty ; for cut off rom me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch-and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and burned.”

The branches that give off little don’t fool the vinedresser, they may look nice but hardly any sap rises in them, therefore there is hardly any fruit. When we

let the sap of our baptism lay dormant this is what happens to us, we become turned in on ourselves, having no fecundity.

When we have just received Jesus in the Eucharist, we dwell in Love and bear much fruit and a fruit which remains. We need this Love all the more so when we are going through trials.

The Holy Spirit is always there with us, giving life to us. God is Love. We are absolutely certain from experience that we are loved just as we are, “Dwell in me as I dwell in my Father.”! This is where our Christian vocation lies, becoming the beloved child of the Father, brothers and sisters who love one another. Our grace is also an ordeal for us, but so long as we remain in Love, then we bear much fruit, especially that of fraternal charity.

“If you remain in men and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it. It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit and be my disciples.”

The vinedresser’s pruning knife is Jesus’ Word : ’Every branch that bears fruit, my Father cuts back, so that it will bear even more fruit." Jesus goes into length to describe this living branch of sap : it is a believer who dwells in Jesus and in whom Jesus can dwell ; it is a believer in whom the Word dwells and works at him ; when God’s Love is not refused, when His presence is welcomed, when one responds hastily to be charitable, abundant fruits shower down.

God’s Love is stronger and truer than any impressions that can go through the heart or pass through peoples’ minds. Finally the disciple perceives within himself the work of the sap ; he comes to recognise that God dwells within him, correcting all things, purifying all things, bringing to life everything that wants to live.

And this instinct of the presence of the Father comes from the Spirit Himself

“We recognise He dwells within us because he has given us his Spirit.”

To remain in Love is the biggest combat in our lives, for ’love is not loved’. in an astonishing manner, by His Cross, Jesus conquers everything that opposes Love . Our conversion comes about when we dwell in this Infinite Love of God. It is our greatest ordeal, we need to be purified like gold as we live out charity. The

other person, our brother or sister, has been saved by Jesus’s Cross, he is moved by the Holy Spirit and this is how I desire to receive him.

The Father cuts back his vine for it to bear good an plentiful fruit. Thus he takes away everything that doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit, and could prevent full fraternal communion. And so in community we can bear fruits, fruits which shine forth God’s Infinite Love. What is going to draw disciples into this community is the Love of God shining forth.

We ask for the grace to understand this Love from God so that as we follow Jesus we become a love for each another.