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A New Season
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"A New Season"

"Relationship" (Relational Love: part 12)

          The gift of relational love is expressed profoundly through the imagery of vine and branches (see John 15:1-8). This passage in John's Gospel not only refers to the relationship between Jesus and the individual believer, but also the relationship between "the vine" and the community of believers, the Mystical Body of Christ: "I am the vine, you are the branches" (John 15:5).

          This union of vine and branches is a participation in the love (the Holy Spirit) shared between the Father and His Son (see Dictionary of Biblical Theology, p. 630). We the branches participate both in the intimacy and intensity of this love. St. Peter says:

"Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love on another intensely from a pure heart" (1 Pet. 1:22).

The word, intense, means 'to an extreme degree, deeply felt; profound'. God's Love for us is both extreme (in the best sense) and deeply profound. The root meaning of the word, intense, is 'to stretch, to extend'. We are 'stretched' on the cross with Jesus to share in his love for others. There, our core heart capacity is increased to hold more of God's Love. Then, we can 'extend' this love to others: "May the Lord increase you and may you overflow with love for one another and for all" (1Thes. 3:12-13).

          Jesus commands us to "love one another as I love you" (John 15:12). The Lamb bears fruit by the offering of his life. Now he continues to offer through our flesh and blood humanity--through our choices to 'extend' the love of God to others: "Above all, let your love for one another be intense" (1 Pet. 4:8).

          Wine is the fruit of the vine and in the Eucharist it is the sacramental presence of the Blood of the Lamb shed to seal the New Covenant. We who are the 'branches' attached to "the vine" participate in this mystery of self-offering as we choose to 'remain' in him: "Because of me you bear fruit" (Hos. 14:9). Today, God desires a "global vineyard of love" to span the earth--comprised of loving hearts that are 'umbilically' united to the heart of Jesus:

"In days to come Jacob shall take root; Israel shall sprout and blossom covering all the world with fruit" (Is. 27:6)

Questions:

1)   Am I growing in an 'intensity' of love for others?

2)   Where in my life do I sense God 'stretching' me at the present time?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; Psalm 80:10,12; Amos 9:13; John 15:13; John 15:16

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-EIGHT, TIME TO EXPIATE"

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