On Wednesday, May 13, Bishop Jaime Soto celebrated the anniversary of Mary's appearance in Fatima, Portugal with a Mass at St. Clare Parish in Roseville. Below is the homily from the Mass:
“Remain in me, as I remain in you.” (Jn. 15.1-8) In the Spanish translation, the word for “remain” is permanecer. “Permanezcan en mí y yo en ustedes.” The word suggests an even stronger sense than “remain”, to be permanent in Jesus, to permanently be with him. This is our hope, to be permanently, eternally with the Lord Jesus.
As we struggle with the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us have a great desire to receive Jesus in communion. Let that hunger to receive communion lead us to a deep desire to permanently live in communion with Christ, to remain always with Christ, to permanecer en Cristo.
The image of the vine and branches is a powerful image of communion. It is also giving us a good reason to be in communion with the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the vine of mercy. Through Jesus we are rooted in the grace and glory of the Holy Spirit. Only through Jesus can we bear fruit that will last and prevail over this pandemic.
Through the Eucharist Jesus, the vine, nourishes all of us, the branches, with his own body and blood. We hunger and thirst for the Eucharist because Jesus gives us life. Separated from Christ our lives wither. Remember that we are all connected to Christ. Even though the necessary social precautions keep us from coming together around the table of the Lord, the vine of Jesus reaches out to us. Jesus nourishes us through one another because as the branches we are connected to Christ.
That is why I am grateful to all my brother priests who daily offer the sacrifice of the Mass. We do so not only to nourish ourselves but also to nourish and strength all the many branches joined to Christ. Remaining with Christ, we remain and permanecer with one another. Every Mass that is offered strengthens all the Church because Jesus is the one vine and we are all the branches joined in communion with him.
The vine of Christ not only extends throughout all the world. Jesus the vine is extended through all time. As we remain in Christ, we are also joined to the great communion of saints, the holy men and women who are now permanently in communion with Lord Jesus.
In a special way, we honor our Blessed Mother Mary, during this month of May. This evening we renew our consecration to her so that she can help us to remain always in communion with her Son, Jesus, especially as we feel the strain and pain of this coronavirus plague. She gives us hope. She, who remained with her Son at the foot of the cross, will remain with her children, the brothers and sisters of Christ as we endure this agonizing passion.
The cross upon which hung our Lord is a fitting image of the vine that nourishes us. When we offer the sacrifice of the Mass, the crucified Christ on the cross nourishes us from his own wounds. Any suffering we endure and any sacrifice we make during this difficult pandemic are also nailed to the cross. We are branches joined to the vine of the crucified Christ, nailed to His cross. In our pain and sorrow we are in communion with the suffering, bleeding vine of Christ. Do not run from the Calvary we now endure. The Almighty Father, the vine grower, is pruning us and purifying us. Encouraged by the example of Mary, let us remain at the cross so that we might remain with him. This communion is difficult, but it is also redeeming because we are truly the branches of the meek and humble vine who saves us and redeems us from the cross.
All those who are afflicted in any way by the plague, all those who closely and courageously care for them, Mary stands by them, remains with them in their tribulations. We must do the same, seeing in them the branches of the suffering vine of the Lord Jesus.
Though we cannot comprehend what good will come from all this, we ask the maternal assistance of Mary that we may continue to remain as faithful disciples doing what works of mercy the Lord by His Spirit enables us to do. Only by remaining with him will we bear the fruit from this trial that will truly glorify the Father.
Mary, mother of mercy, mother of the Church: Pray for us.