National Collection for International Eucharistic Congress

Parishioners are asked to support the national collection on Sunday 6 May towards the costs of hosting next month’s International Eucharistic Congress.

The Congress organisers have specifically chosen not to seek the kind of state support that a large event of this kind would normally attract, because the economic circumstances of the times suggest that state funding is needed to support the sick, the homeless and the education of our children.

For that reason, the Congress really depends on the contributions of people of faith in order to make its contribution to renewal. Thank you for your generous support for the Congress in previous years.

Meanwhile, the Congress team offers the following reflection on the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter: “I am the vine, you are the branches“:

This is the image Jesus uses to describe our Communion with Him. “As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me.” To put it simply, everything we are as parish bears fruit when it is rooted in Jesus; when His word inspires what we do and how we live and work together. As Christians, we live in the world, but our mission is to enrich the world with the life of Christ. We do that effectively when we ourselves are filled with that life.

The image of pruning is a very interesting one. During the past few years, as we have been preparing for the Eucharistic Congress, many people have insisted that the Congress must be about renewal; about putting Christ back at the heart of the Church. This is where the pruning comes in. Pruning is very “surgical.” It changes the shape and the direction of things. The thought of pruning in our personal lives or in our communities, understandably, makes us apprehensive. It takes us “out of our comfort zone”, but it is the pruning that brings on the new growth and lays the foundation for the fruit that will follow.

Each branch on the vine has a direct relationship with the others. Our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, describes the situation among Christians in the first century; how easily suspicion undermines relationships, even when people are well intentioned. We see how hard Paul had to work to regain trust and then to maintain the Communion of the Church, sometimes letting go of his own agenda and his own preferences. What makes this commitment to communion possible for us today is our shared faith in Jesus Christ. It is, in the final analysis, only possible to be in communion with one another, if we are in communion with Christ. It is only when the branches are attached to the vine that they bear fruit. Unlike branches on the vine, we choose communion and, when it is broken, we can renew it through the healing action of the Spirit of God.