Saint Mark the Evangelist.
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of thy Evangelist Saint Mark; Give us grace that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of thy holy Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Readings see below: Ephesians iv. 7. St. John xv. 1.
Abide in Me
The Gospel today has one plain message, those who abide in Jesus Christ will be made fruitful, and will produce good things for the Kingdom of God. Those who do not abide in Christ, shall be cut off and cast away into the fire. As we remember St. Mark the Evangelist this day, and the Gospel he gave us, we can appreciate his fruitful works through his Gospel, a work that was the result of his walk with Jesus, abiding in his love and laboring for his Kingdom. Our salvation is assured in our ABIDING FAITH in Christ, and the outward manifestation of that faith is the good that we produce.
The Greek word translated as ‘abide" is Meno. It means to remain in. In reference to place it means to sojourn or tarry, not to depart from, to be held and kept, and not depart from. In reference to time it means to continue to be, not to perish, to endure. In reference to state or condition, it means to remain as one, not to become another, or different.
In our Epistle, St. Paul tells us that as we abide in Jesus Christ he works a good work in us to develop us for his purposes. Not all will do the same work, but each will be given gifts, abilities, and inspiration to do some work for the good of the Kingdom. Paul cites examples of various vocations such as apostles; prophets; evangelists; pastors, and teachers. Their work is to labor to exhort the saints toward following Jesus our daily life as we grow in grace. Through this effort, the whole Church will be built up for the glory of God, and the saints shall walk together in the unity of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The image of Jesus as the Vine and the God the Father as the Husbandman is a powerful one. In it, Jesus compares the Church to a vine. Some branches of the Church become dried up. They do not bear fruit, but take from the body so that it suffers as a whole. His Father, the Good Husbandman looks for these branches. He can spot them fairly easily, for it is evident whether or not they produce good fruits – some produce no fruit, others produce corrupt fruit. For the good of the Vine, the Husbandman prunes the bad branches from the Vine. He casts them away and burns them up in the fire. Those branches that actually remain in the Vine benefit from the care of the Husbandman and produce more good fruit. He tends them with love, purging them and dressing them that they might become even better.
I believe our Lord shared this image with his disciples so that they might understand the importance of enduring in the fellowship of the saints. That they might convey to all that it is only by walking with Christ and following him day-by-day that we shall be saved. Only through our daily walk are we to be fed by the True Vine – and apart from him we will become unfruitful and a drain on the body of the faithful. The true meaning to "believe" in Christ is to abide in him. It is not just to acknowledge him to be the Son of God, for even the devils do so. It is to accept him as one’s personal Savior, and to commune with him continually.
One of the rules of the Order of Centurions is to "pray without ceasing" as St. Paul encouraged us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Patrick of Ireland expressed it in this prayer: Christ be with us, Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ in us, Christ beneath us, Christ above us, Christ on our right, Christ on our left, Christ where we lie, Christ where we sit, Christ where we arise, Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of us, Christ in every eye that sees us, Christ in every ear that hears us. Salvation is of the Lord, Salvation is of the Christ, May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.
The continuous interior prayer is a form of communication with God. Central to it is the awareness of God's presence at all times, a prayer which is reflective of the union of heart mind, soul, and will with God. By following this exhortation of Paul, and the example of Patrick, and following his commandments day-by-day, one can be assured that they will Abide in Christ. He in return, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will make them fruitful laborers for the Kingdom.
Ephesians iv. 7.
UNTO every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.? And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
St. John xv. 1.
I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
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