‘Remain in Me...’
Reflections on the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 2, 2021): ACTS 9:26-31; PS 22:26-27,28,30,31-32; 1 JN 3:18-24; JN 15:1-8
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Christ wants His followers to understand that He is the one and only vine that gives life, and they are the branches that share a deep personal relationship.
In the parable that Jesus tells to His disciples in today’s Gospel, we hear Him develop the theme of the profound closeness that exists between Him and the Father as well as all who believe in Him. Christ starts by making it clear that the Father is the vine grower and He is the true vine. Christ wants His followers to understand that He is the one and only vine that gives life, and they are the branches that share a deep personal relationship. But only the branches that bear fruit remain attached to the vine. All the rest are cut away. Anyone who rejects Christ or who initially believes and then turns away cannot be one with our Lord. Yet even the branches that remain must expect to be pruned in order to bear more fruit. And those who remain as His disciples must be transformed in order to become ever closer to Jesus. This change comes at a cost. Both body and soul may suffer throughout our lives as we open ourselves more fully to God’s saving grace. Putting His will before our own can be difficult, but the love we share with our brothers and sisters and the good that we do is the rich, ripe fruit that honors God and serves His Kingdom.
Jesus is very clear that He does not expect us to succeed on our own. On the contrary, it is our responsibility to cooperate with Him. The power belongs to Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without Me you can do nothing.… If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples” (John 15:5, 7-8). Being a Christian is an ongoing process. Each morning we awake to a new opportunity to serve our Savior, to be more like Him in serving our Father and supporting our neighbors in their spiritual and material needs. And each night we can pray, thanking Him for helping us remain in Him and letting His words of truth and mercy remain in us.