Some plants can be cut and put into the ground and they will root. Others will die soon after they are cut from the mother plant. Jesus identified Himself as the true vine and compared us to branches that cannot exist apart from Him. Trouble is that many of us do not realize our dependency upon the One who gives us life.
When we are children our dependency upon our parents is noticeable. As infants we are one of the creatures most dependent upon our parents. If left alone, we die. That’s why strict laws prohibit leaving children home alone or in a car by themselves or unattended in public places. A child wants to be held, loved, made to feel safe. Parents represent the world to their children. One of the first movements that a child learns is to reach out with both arms to Mother or Father. However, in some cases, something strange happens during adolescent or pre-adolescent years, particularly among male children. They stop kissing Mommy and Daddy. They forget to say “good night or good morning”. They also forget to say their prayers. With what we consider acquired knowledge comes the loss of innocence. In actuality we “dumb down”. We think that we are getting smarter, but the opposite is true. The illusion is that we can become self-sufficient—that we do not need anybody. Sports, band, chess teams help to build community. Isolation is good in moderation but can feed the illusion that we do not need each other. One of the greatest challenges facing our society is to work together—to realize that we are all connected—part of the Vine. Apathy is public enemy number one!—Not caring what happens, especially to the poor is just as bad as not caring for unborn babies—Undocumented immigrants, victims of home violence, the forgotten elderly. We’ve got homework and we can’t turn our back and say, “It’s none of my business.”
Being part of the Vine makes everyone our business. We make judgment calls everyday. We discriminate by what people ware, how they speak, what kind of car they drive. God does not discriminate. He loves us all. God knows that if, for one split second, He would stop thinking of us, we would cease to exist. Sometimes bad things happen, but they are not caused by the Vine. The branches are responsible and can damage one another.
The Sacrament of Baptism makes us a new creation—reminds us who we are in Christ—gives us the opportunity to breath in a polluted world. Babies remind us of our original innocence. We are created in God’s image and likeness. We are suppose to be like God, act like Him, love each other as He loves us. We forget. In the future, if a label is given to the 21st century it might be, “The Distracted Generation”. The evil one has only to work through cyber space to get our attention because the greatest importance is given to the gadgets we hold and depend upon for communication. The gadgets can be distracting, make us forget who are. Children are sometimes disciplined by taking away social media gadgets. Very different from a few years back when punishment was not being able to play with the neighbors. The children baptized today will have greater obstacles than the ones we face. All the more reason to remain attached to the Vine. Parents, Godparents, all of us will need to remind them of the importance of being a community of believers. Our prayers are with them. May they grow to be reflections of the love of God and make a better world than the one they inherit from us.
We are branches and without the Vine who is Jesus Christ, we have not purpose. We feed on the life which the Vine gives us through the Eucharist.