A few days ago, a Spanish-speaking family approached me for information on a Baptismal seminar. Although I speak a little Spanish, I am not proficient enough to give a seminar, so hoping that I would find something on the Internet to use as a handout, I agreed to provide the seminar on Saturday. Thanks to Internet, I found both the handouts and an instructional video in Spanish on the Sacrament of Baptism, written and developed by a seminary in Monterrey, Mexico. When I answered the doorbell on Saturday morning, standing there were 4 adults and 7 little ones all below the age of 6. I invited all of them into my office and I asked the little ones to sit quietly on one side while I showed the parents the video. How many minutes do you think the kids were able to keep quiet and sit still?
The little altar server and her mother are a beautiful model of what Our Lord does for us when we face insurmountable challenges. All of us here (without exception) will make that ultimate journey one day, to cross that raging sea of water that engulfs our life here on earth. Before that day of our death, we will continue to face daily the overwhelming waters that cause us to lose heart and even reduce us to tears. Just as that that little altar server’s mom came to her side to support her and guide her, Our Lord leads us through the raging waters of life’s challenges, through his Father’s help. Our Lord says to us today in the Gospel, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine and you are the branches.”
Using the image of the vine, the branches, and the vine grower, Our Lord tells us that our Heavenly Father is the total source of our life, and that it is through Jesus that the Father supplies all our needs just as a vine supplies everything for the branches. Just as the branches are intimately connected to the whole plant and belong to the plant, we know that we are intimately connected to the Father and belong to Him, who created us, and who knows our joys and our sorrows, our every need. The very love and Spirit of Our Father are within us, and are greater than the evil that lurks in the world in which we live. The evil tendency destroys us and destroys the family; it destroys our relationship with Our Father. Our Lord reminds us in the Gospel, “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit...Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither.” We have been given all that it takes to overcome the evil, but we have to remain in Him.
How do we remain in union with Him? One way is through intimate prayer. I could tell that the family that was in my office Saturday morning remains connected to the Father through prayer. When all 11 of us were through with the Baptismal seminar, I invited them to take a photo. They instinctively knew to stand beside Our Lady of Guadalupe’s picture and the statue of Sacred Heart of Jesus that are in my office. They may have been surprised to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of Mexico, here in Donaldsonville. Back home, they prayed to her in their home and churches, and She gave them motherly comfort and encouragement to remain in prayer to Our Lord. Her presence in my office was a confirmation for them that their prayers are answered. Prayer not only nourishes us, it makes us one mind and heart with Our Lord. How often this poor priest is apart from the mind and heart of Jesus because he does not pray well and therefore does not bear fruit! Therefore, we need to look into our lives and and see what we need to prune so that we may pray more faithfully and bear fruit for Our Lord.