Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2018 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s readings, the verb “remain” appears ten times. This verb is used to express union with Jesus and dependency on him.

Jesus uses the metaphor of the vine to explain the kind of relationship we have with him. He is the vine and we are the branches. The Father is the vine grower, always at work with only one concern: for the vine to be fruitful. He trims away what does not bear fruit in us so that we may grow in love. When we are united with Jesus, we experience the mysterious action of the Father. He purifies us through the trials and fatherly discipline we experience in this life. As the Letter to the Hebrews says: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb 12:5‒6).

With the metaphor of the vine, Jesus stresses the importance of our absolute dependency on him: “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). As you know, the concept of dependency is something that our culture rejects. If you depend on someone or something, you are not true to yourself. To depend on an authority, tradition or whatever is viewed as something bad. The isolated individual is the supreme value.

This culture makes some ask why we should do what the Church says. Nobody has the right to tell us what to do.

In many situations, dependency is something bad and could become alienation. There are dependencies that make us slaves, such as brainwashing ideologies, drugs, pornography etc. However, there are also dependencies that are good. For example, it is good that a baby depends on his mother. When someone is in love, he or she totally depends on the other person. Is that bad? If we look at our experience, we clearly understand that there are good dependencies and bad dependencies.

Jesus’ concept of dependency is not opposed to the individual. He teaches us that when we belong to him, we do not lose ourselves. On the contrary, we find ourselves in a new way. He teaches us that following him is the way to enrich our personalities, to be fruitful and to be more human.

To remain in Jesus is to experience union with him. This union started on the day of our Baptism, when we were grafted onto the vine. Since that moment, we have belonged to the body of Christ, to the Church, the mystical body of Jesus.

We remain in Jesus through the Church. If we circumvent the Church and what it teaches, we circumvent Christ. As Saint Cyprian says: “He cannot have God for his Father who does not have the Church for his Mother.”

The Church is not a perfect place because it is made by us. However, it is the place where we can experience what the second reading tells us: “God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn 3:20). Here we can remain in Jesus and understand that union with him and dependency on him are the total accomplishments of our lives.  Amen.