Saturday, May 09, 2009

Remain in Me

May 10, 2009

Fifth Sunday of Easter

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us. 1 John 3:23-24

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. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. John 15:5-6


“Come with me to the Palace of Nowhere where all the many things are one.” (Thomas Merton)


The vine and the branches is the story of a good connection. There are powerful connections and there are meaningless connections. A good connection is one that bears good fruit. Having the experience of doing pruning and almost killing an apple tree taught me the lesson that one needs to know what they are doing. Christ’s word separates the wheat from the chaff. The word of Jesus takes root in our hearts and is shown by the love we have for one another. It is a word that prunes because it makes what is false smart. It hurts in many different ways. A rotten fruit can take out the barrel if it is left where it touches other fruit. The ripe fruit falls to the ground. Branches that have too much fruit can break. The Lord knows how to harvest us by giving us the chance to share our life in Christ with others. Our piety is spelt out in how Christ gives life to us. Piety is the connection to Christ as the true vine. He gives us the word on our heart that we share with others. Christ is the word when we live our lives in him. We do not have to say anything when Christ is the story of our life. We can live the challenge of St. Francis to speak always occasionally using a word. Our connection to Christ comes from pruning. The Purgative way of Spirituality is the pruning of the Lord of what saps his life out of our lives.

We remain in Christ by the way we study Christ in books, people and the words of the Church. The People of God are the Church and the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. If we remain in Christ, we will bear much fruit and be his disciples. He goes before us and he shows us his ways. The Word on our hearts frees us to live in God. What we find confirmed in the life of the Church down through the Centuries teaches us by the traditions the living word of Christ. When our hearts are in conformity with what the history of the Church reveals we have the confirmation of our belonging in the strongest of all the connections. Our keeping the commandments becomes easy because that is our happiness. Belonging to Christ opens our hearts to all who need us. The giving of ourselves away becomes second nature to us. By living the commandments we remain in Christ. The Spirit he gave us is the life of God within.


Saul, soon to be called Paul in his conversion, was feared by the disciples. They could not easily come to believe that Christ had appeared to him. Sharing the conversion of each other is sharing such a moment of closeness to Christ. We need the confirmation of the Community for people to believe in our conversion. We need to see each other in Community to believe and want the intimacy that paves the road to sanctity. Hearing about and seeing each other’s goodness is how we can live in deed and truth. Our hearts will reassure us that we belong to Christ if we love one another as Christ has loved us. With this consolation of the Holy Spirit our communities will again grow in numbers. The God of our hearts will allow us to strengthen each other, opening our minds to what must be done if we are going to give the Spirit free reign in our hearts.

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