Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims May 6 that their lives will be fruitful and have meaning if they live in union with Jesus Christ.
"Dear friends, every one of us is like a vine, which lives only if it is growing every day in prayer, participation in the sacraments, in charity, in its union with the Lord," said the Pope in his midday Regina Coeli address marking the Fifth Sunday of Easter.
"And he who loves Jesus, the true vine, produces fruits of faith for an abundant spiritual harvest."
The Pope spoke to large crowds in an overcast and drizzly St. Peter’s Square, reflecting upon the words of Jesus, as recorded in the’s Gospel of St. John: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser."
In this passage, the Pope explained to pilgrims, Jesus reveals himself as "the true vine of God, the true life," who "with his sacrifice of love gives us salvation" and "opens the way to be part of this vine."
And just as Christ is in God the Father, so his followers, "carefully pruned by the words of the Master, are united in a profound way to him, becoming fruitful branches, which produce an abundant harvest."
The Pope then quoted the 16th-17th century Swiss Bishop St. Francis de Sales who, in his Treatise on the Love of God, observed how, in nature, "the branches united and joined to the trunk bears fruit, not by its own virtue."
Similarly, a Christian who is "joined by love to our Redeemer" will produce "good works, taking their value from him, (and) merit life eternal."
Pope Benedict explained that this union occurs in baptism, when "the Church grafts us as branches into the paschal mystery of Christ, into his own person."
From there on, he said, "it is essential to remain united to Jesus, to depend upon him," because "without him we can do nothing."
This proposition, however, does not contradict a belief in the freedom of man, said Pope Benedict. He highlighted the fifth-century writing of St. John the prophet from Gaza, who told an enquirer that "if a man inclines his heart to the good and asks God’s help, he receives the necessary strength to accomplish his work."
Therefore, "the freedom of man and power of God go together," as the good act is "possible because the Lord is good"; but "it is fulfilled thanks to his faithful."
Before going onto pray the Regina Coeli, Pope Benedict concluded his comments by commending those present to Mary, the Mother of God.
"Let us beseech the Mother of God, that we might remain firmly grafted in Jesus and that all our actions may have their beginning, and their fulfillment, in him."