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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fr. Campbell, “The Vine and the Branches” (Jn.15:1-11)

“The Vine and the Branches” (Jn.15:1-11)
Fr. Campbell 

In these times of stress and turmoil we must know that we are not in this world on an extended vacation. This should be clear upon reading the third chapter of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. God speaks to Adam after he and his wife Eve have disobeyed Him by eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Paradise:

“Cursed be the ground because of you; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, since out of it you were taken; for dust you are and unto dust you shall return” (Gen.3:17b-19).

It is still true. We need to work hard to succeed in this world. A good education is necessary for our survival. In particular, we must have a thorough knowledge of our Catholic Faith. Yet how dangerous an education can be if it prepares us to be drones of the New World Order, and not for eternal life. The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake leads to pride. Lucifer was the most intelligent of the angels of God, yet his pride became his downfall. The words of the Prophet Isaiah are used by the Church to refer to his condemnation:

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? How art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations? And thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the height of the clouds. I will be like the most High. But yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, into the depths of the pit” (Is.14:12-15).

The great Apostle and preacher, St. Paul, approached his hearers with humility:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with pretentious speech or wisdom, announcing unto you the witness to Christ. For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified…” (1Cor.2:1,2).

Knowledge, says St. Paul, does not necessarily mean wisdom:

“Let no one deceive himself. If any one of you thinks himself wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may come to be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘I will catch the wise in their craftiness.’ And again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are empty’” (1Cor.3:18-21).

Again, he speaks of the knowledge of God, which is what makes the difference:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? Or who has first given to him, that recompense should be made him?’ For from him and unto him are all things. To him be the glory forever, amen” (Rom.11:33-36).     

God has revealed Himself to us, and this is what we need, the knowledge of the God who makes Himself known to His people. We are given very specific information about this by the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ:

“He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me, sees him who sent me. I have come a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness… He who rejects me, and does not accept my words, has one to condemn him. The word that I have spoken will condemn him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but he who sent me, the Father, has commanded me what I should say, and what I should declare. And I know that his commandment is everlasting life. The things, therefore, that I speak, I speak as the Father has bidden me” (Jn.12:44-46;48-50).

But even the Apostles were slow to understand. Jesus speaks to the Apostle Philip, who asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us” (Jn.14:8):

“Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known me? Philip, he who sees me sees also the Father. How canst thou say, ‘Show us the Father’? Dost thou not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I speak not on my own authority. But the Father dwelling in me, it is he who does the works” (Jn.14:9b-,10).

How necessary it is, then, to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and to believe in Him, and to be baptized, and to stay with the Church, and to receive the holy Sacraments! A must also, is to have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and pray your Rosary. Every Day! In case there should remain any doubt in your mind, hear what Our Lord has to say:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done to you. In this is my Father glorified, that you may bear very much fruit, and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn.15:5-12).

Saving our souls is a full time job. Who wants to end up a burning, twisted wreck, down in Hell? Many who try to discover the secrets of the universe spend their lives in a fruitless search for the unsearchable, and they end up a handful of dust like the rest of us. Without Jesus Christ we don’t have the ghost of a chance of knowing the truth. But with Him we know all things, because Jesus is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn.14:6).