“I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser.” 

This quote of Jesus is renowned because it is at the heart of humankind's relationship with God…we are a connected people. Part of this connection is that we be united with Him and one another. Our life is grounded in the communities we participate in…our families, our parish and society. In each of these relationships we share many aspects of life and in a very real sense our roots are intertwined. Jesus taught and stressed that this interconnectedness is not an option. Bruno Barnhart is a Calmaldolese monk who reflected on this aspect of Jesus’ teaching and says: “Abide in me”: means to root yourselves in this central place, and remain rooted here, and my life will flow through you and bear fruit in the world.” 
     This past Thursday the Church celebrated the Feast of Dominican Lay-Tertiary, St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). She was an incredible woman, a mystic, activist, Doctor of the Church (one of only 4 women with this title in the church), the youngest of 25 siblings (most of whom did not survive childhood), and an adviser to Popes. She wrote a meaningful meditation which speaks of the image that Jesus uses in this weekend’s Gospel, regarding the Vine and the Branches. Here is what she wrote: 
Engrafted To Divinity” 
And you, high eternal Trinity, 
Acted as if you were drunk with love, 
Infatuated with your creature. 
When you saw that this tree could bear no fruit 
but the fruit of death, 
because it was cut off from you who are life, 
you came to its rescue 
with the same love 
with which you created it: 
you engrafted your divinity 
into the dead tree of our humanity. 
O sweet tender engrafting! 
You, sweetness itself, 
Stooped to join yourself 
with our bitterness.” 
    These beautiful words should move us to mediate on how gracious God’s love for us is. Not only did He send His son to be born as one of us, but He also allowed us to be united (or, grafted) onto and into His life through Baptism.  All our life from that point on is graced, blessed, and made holy. We are inseparably ‘grafted’ into the Divine Life which leads us eventually to Eternal Life. St. Catherine’s poetic words remind us that new life was the goal of God’s love for each of us. Our lifelong task is to remain branches that draw life from the vine. Stay connected and live long! 
                                                                          Easter Season blessings, 
                                                                                        Fr. Mike