In him my soul shall live…
How connected are we to God?
In his Last Supper discourse to the disciples in John’s Gospel, a bit of which we hear this Sunday, Jesus describes our relationship with him, and through him with God, using the image of the vine and the branches: I am the true vine, he says, and my Father is the vine grower… You are the branches. It is God’s love that prunes the vine, cutting away whatever we cling to that will not bear fruit in our lives, so that we can believe and trust and find consolation in God’s love. Once pruned, so long as we remain connected to the one thing we truly need – that love – we can live in Jesus and he in us, and through that love we can also be connected to all each other.
For as the First Letter of John reminds us, if we are beloved by God, then we should relate in love with one another: let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. It’s not enough to talk about love; we need to live it because we believe in the power of God’s love come to earth in the form of Jesus. Only then can we remain in Christ. And it’s not easy; even the first Christians had trouble with the concept. After Saul’s radical conversion experience, as told in Acts, he tries to join the apostles in Jerusalem, but most will have nothing to do with him until Barnabas reaches out and creates the much-needed connection. Only then is true trust possible; only then can the work of the early Christian mission continue.
Some scholars suggest that the word religion comes from the Latin verb religare, which means to bind fast. Perhaps this is what is meant in Psalm 22 – in him my soul shall live: that in the context of our relationship with God and with God’s Son, we are all bound fast together, one body, vine and branches. For in the end, isn’t connection more or less what Christianity is basically about?
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle