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“I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15, 1-5).
Jesus is the Vine, the trunk and the Head of the Church; we are the branches and the members of His Body. That is the reality founded on Him and through Him to bring mankind back to God.
Besides being a community of faith, hope and love, Christ instituted the Church to be His “visible Body” on Earth and to guide the whole of mankind to God. It is a visible Assembly and a spiritual Community at the same time; one single reality, human and Divine at the same time. This mystery is comparable to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, as Vatican Council II states:
“As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body” (Lumen Gentium 8).
Saint Paul teaches the same to the Ephesians:
“Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4, 15-16).
Jesus gave His community a structure that will endure until the Come of the Kingdom. Christ knew that, as in every human society, the Church could never survive without hierarchy. Families need a head, the husband; cities need a Mayor; states need a Governor and countries need a President. There is a famous saying: “two captains will sink the ship.” That also applies to the Church because of our human nature.
The Lord chose Twelve Disciples and assigned Peter as their leader: their visible Head.
“He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority do drive out demons; [he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter…”(Mark 3, 14-16).
Jesus entrusted the Kingdom of God in first place to the Apostles:
“…and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22, 29-30).
Prof Felipe Aquino
Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino