today's readings. I was studying them for a few hours this morning in preparation for the communion service. Father Don has told us several times that often, not always, but often the 1st Reading and the Gospel have a common theme. As I read the readings for today I did some Lectio Divina. I prayed, and I read again. I prayed, and I read again. The first reading seemed to be about the authority being established in the early church, and the second about life in Christ (or more general, plant biology.)
So what did they have in common? A lot. I remember growing up in Virginia we had a lot of different vines. Grape vines. Poison oak. Kudzu. Many of these vines would creep right up the side of a building, and if you didn't do something about it... it would eventually work it's way into the cracks and break apart the siding. How do you get rid of them? Well some could say pull them off the wall a branch at a time. That eventually works, but wow it's a lot of effort. No, the best way to get rid of one of these pesky vines is to cut it off at the roots. Find the vine, and you find the life support of the branches. Without its connection to the root the plant doesn't get nourishment, the branches die off, and eventually you can pull them right off the side of the building with no damage to the building. Then just like in the Gospel, you burn them or destroy them in some way. (Don't go burning Poison Oak, that'll do a number on your lungs!)
So what does that have in common with the first reading? Well we see in the first reading that there is an argument going on in the early church. Some think we should be doing this, others think we should not. So where do we go to solve that? You see the disciples do not go to the temple, or the pharisees or even the scribes. That is where you would think a devout Jew would go.. but this is the New Testament, the church. Where do they go? They go to the apostles.. “The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.” You see the first Christians had an apostolic view of the church, and the way to Jesus was through the church. They didn't seek a decision from other experts, or from other congregations.. they went to the one and only church of Christ. The apostles were the branches, and they were spreading the fruit of the labor.
That's what we are doing today gathered together at this communion service. We are here to renew our connection with the vine. Just like those pesky vines in Virginia, if we get cut off from the vine... we will wither and die spiritually. Only by being filled with the grace of God, by being connected to the branches, can we hope to bear much fruit. Through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church we receive Jesus himself, grace and mercy to go out into the world and bear fruit. We together are more plentiful. One branch alone can bear a lot of fruit, sure. But together, the many, many branches that make up the body of Christ.. now when all of us support and help one another to bear fruit.. now there is a harvest worth talking about!