Monday, April 15, 2002

The Mystery of the Vine

Reflections on CFL: Paragraphs 8 and 9

JPII begins to immerse us deeper into the biblical images of the vine and the vineyard. It is a complex tapestry, but one worth exploring. (See John 15:1-6, Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 19:10, Isaiah 5:1-2 and Mark 12:1.) I wasn't kidding about there being a lot of them!

Here's where it pays to have a teacher like the pope. When I look at all those passages I just get confused. My mind tries to craft a single explanation for what the vine represents. JPII takes a different approach, drawing out many facets. The laity are not just laborers in the vineyard, but part of the vineyard as well. The vine represents God's people, Jesus and the Church. And many of the passages speak to the mystery of our God being three-in-one. It is this emphasis on communion that intrigues me:

"Only from inside the Church's mystery of communion is the "identity" of the lay faithful made known and their fundamental dignity revealed. Only within the context of this dignity can their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world be defined."
What does this mean? I'm not entirely sure. (I would love to hear from some readers on this one.) Here's what I take away. First, the laity are not some accidental by-product. We are not a regularly scheduled, weekly audience. We are part of the mystical body of Christ. Second, we must be people of prayer. Without prayer we are unlikely to understand much of, or truly participate in, this communion that JPII says is the context from which our identity is revealed. (Any of that make sense?)

If nothing else, the reader is impressed by the pope's seriousness about the laity and their role. And that should give us encouragement to learn what we are called to do. So what is unique about us? Quoting Lumen Gentium, JPII affirms that the unique character of our vocation is to "seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of God." The "front lines" of the Church's life, to quote Pius XII.

All of this means that we need to meditate more seriously on the meaning of our baptism, how it has changed us and what its mark on us calls us to be. A perfect thing to ponder in the remaining weeks of Eastertide. Having just renewed our baptismal promises, we should dig deeper into the mystery of what we have become through baptism.

Next Post: Reflections on Paragraphs 10 through 13 of CFL


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