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CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY

Pastor's Corner

 

Welcome to the Church of the Nativity family. Since its dedication on October 21, 1989,  our community has faithfully committed to our mission: We are a praying, learning and caring community fulfilling the mission God gives us in baptism by our worship in faith, by our witness in hope, and by our service in love. We invite you to journey with our community in Christ, thus will be said, “Day by Day the Lord added to their number” (Acts 2:47). Our Nativity School is led by faith-filled, loving professional staff who provide not only excellence in academics for our children so that they may excel in life, but help cultivate and form our children to come to know, love and serve God through the gifts God has blessed each of them. We are a Dynamic Parish and look forward to walking with you and your family to pray, worship, and give thanks to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us. In joy and in sorrow, we will live out together the witness of faith, hope and charity. At the Church of the Nativity, there will always be room “in the inn” (Luke 2,7).

This Sunday, we  hear in the Gospel (Jn. 15:1-8) of another image of Jesus, this time as “the vine.” Though appearing quite simple, it fills us with a sense of mystery, beauty and awe, for it integrates us into his very Life - and he into our life - in an intimate unity and oneness. Grafted into “the vine” (Jesus’ own Life), we are transformed and empowered with a new life in his Spirit, without which we can do nothing.
Jesus begins with this statement: “I am the true vine.” It brings to light his unique identity as both human and divine. “I am” is God’s most holy Name and the “vine” is Israel has become fruitless, he is now taking up Israel’s true calling – bearing fruit for God – and fulfilling it. In this vine, the “vine-grower” is pleased to see the new branches, the disciples whom he prunes in order to make fruitful, as the dead branches have already been removed. The first pruning has already taken place with their “yes” to Him in which they left everything “because of the word (he) spoke to (them).” The pruning continues in the struggles that they undergo in their own lives, especially in carrying their crosses daily to follow Jesus and carry out his work by his power.
Certainly, their communion for three years would continue, but now it is no longer a matter of just “being with” him. They are bluntly told that they can actually  “do nothing” by just being with Him but that they must be “in” him; meaning, they need to be grafted into his Life, like branches to the vine. Only by being transformed interiorly will they be able to follow him and carry out his work. An example of this is St. Paul in the Second Reading (Acts 9:26-31). Once a fruitless branch in Israel, his mystical encounter with Jesus put new life into him – Jesus’ own Life – and he was radically changed.  Pope Benedict XVI explains this “sacramental union” (not any particular sacrament, but rather the entire mystery of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection), in which, Jesus “enters into us through his Spirit and transforms us. Precisely because this sacramental union cleanses and renews us from within, it also unleashes a dynamic of new life. Thus, the command to do as Jesus did is no mere moral appendix to the mystery, but rather follows from the inner dynamic of gift with which the Lord renews us and draws us into what is his” 
This is what St. John meant in the Second Reading (1 Jn. 3:18-24). We keep the commandments of Jesus and remain in him, not by our own strength, but “from the Spirit he gave us.” What gives us “confidence in God” is our “sacramental union” with Jesus, even if “our hearts” make us feel uncertain before him, “for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.”  This “union” differs from the union among people in the world: It is a rooting and growing in Jesus, which begins in baptism and is constantly strengthened through the other sacraments in diverse ways. With this, a community is formed among the baptized, making up the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, the visible expression of Jesus, “the true vine.”  It is a living body, in which the life-giving Spirit that Jesus radiates flows to all the branches (Eph. 5:23, 30).
Here is the fruitfulness of the vine and branches: When we engage in the work that Jesus left us to do, living Life in Him - seeing things with his eyes, loving with his Heart, thinking as he does, wanting what he 
wants - our prayers will always be answered, and our work for the Kingdom will prosper and will show forth God’s glory. This is the unshakeable confidence we should have when we let what Jesus says sink in: “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much.”
This is the heart of the Eucharistic mystery, as the Catechism of the Church teaches us: “For all their works, prayers and undertakings (e.g., family and married life, daily work, relaxation), if they are accomplished in the Spirit (even the hardships of life if patiently born), all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist, these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives” (CCC 901). This makes us the fruitful vineyard, whose harvest glorifies God and blesses and sanctifies the whole of creation. What a beautiful harvest.