What does it take to remain in Christ?
Just after washing the disciples’ feet in John’s Gospel – an act of profound humility – Jesus commences his Last Supper Discourses, which were intended to give the disciples a sense of what their life in community was meant to be, beginning with a profound understanding that the life Jesus calls them to can only be lived from him, and in him. The disciples cannot go out and proclaim the good news as independents, disconnected from the source of truth that is Jesus himself. Only if they remain in him can the disciples glorify the Father and bear much fruit. Without me you can do nothing, Jesus reminds them. He is the origin and the author, the source of all truth; he is the true vine, and his disciples are the branches.
If, as Jesus requests, the disciples remain in him, they will be in a constant state of awareness of God’s presence and activity in their lives. Only then can they pray that, to him their soul shall live, as Psalm 22 insists – for they will be ready to live in and for the Lord. In the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples learn that their greatest enemy, Saul, has met Jesus on the road to Damascus and has undergone a radical transformation of heart. If God could convert their worst enemy, what would the Lord not do for them? They, like Saul, like us, have the capacity to be completely transformed by God’s grace, so that to him their soul shall live. But they must, as the First Letter of John stipulates, believe in the name of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded them. For, as the Letter reminds them, Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them. To love, to bring Jesus’ love to bear upon the world, to love in deed and truth, is to remain in him, connected to him, as branches to a vine. Let us celebrate that connection as we go forth through the Easter season, that we might, as Jesus wished, continue to bear much fruit.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source: www.wordle.net