If you visit the ancient basilicas in Rome, a few dating to the first half of the fourth century, you will find the motif of the vine and branches everywhere. It is on facades, on domes, on doors, climbing up pillars, in mosaic floors. It seems this motif was a major way that the often-embattled early Christians understood themselves and their unity with one another — these small congregations scattered throughout the Mediterranean and Near East. It was the way they understood the relationship of the apostles, with Peter as prominent, to Christ, and the relationship of the apostles to the “churches.” The sense of being embattled seems to heighten a sense of unity — like after 9/11, when we were “all Americans.” Today we struggle to “remain in me, as I remain in you.” We struggle to appreciate that “without me you can do nothing.” And we definitely struggle to feel a sense of unity with other people who may hold quite different views from mine. Unity is a fragile thing. We ask the Lord to gift us with a strong sense of our unity with one another and with Him this week.
– By Sister Mary Garascia