Friday, 8 May 2009

Abide in me, and I in you (Jn 15:1-8)

The Gospel for this Sunday, a reflection on the 5th Sunday of Easter, is taken from John 15:1-8, with the central theme "Abide in me, and I in you" (Joh 15:4 RSV), and a passage very close to the heart of Dominicans I feel...

As so many texts in the Gospel of St. John, there are many many layers of depth to be found. This gospel sums up, in a way I think, the calling of us into a deep relation with Jesus with as result action, fruit. "Contemplata aliis Tradare", the moto of the Dominican order, to share with others the fruit of our contemplation.

Jesus uses the illustration of the vine to show the relation between Himself and us, or maybe even better, you and me, as the call is personal. The vine is a sign of communion, as is very clear in the fruit of the vine, wine, at the last supper, but also at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2:1). St. Paul gift a good reflection on the vine, which is Jesus, and the branches who are in relation to Him in the letter to the Romans (Rom 11:16ff).

"He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit" (Joh 15:5 RSV). This passage is beautiful from the point of view that it shows us the way to do the Lords work, the work which will bear fruit if we "abide" in Jesus. Once we discover God's love, when our hearts burn within us, we want to share this with others. Sometimes the urge to share this can be very strong, but we have to always keep in mind that we keep grounded in the source of this love, so the fire keeps getting its fuel and does not burn out. Everything comes from Jesus, and it is only with Him that we can bear real lasting fruits. Even if we are eager to share the Gospel, we have to be careful that we don't leave God behind and make it our own effort instead of trusting on God, the very source from which the gift came.

With apostolic work there is always the risk that we forget about this, that we need to have to have a deep relation with Jesus. This is fundamental, "as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (Joh 15:4 RSV). An example of this can be read in the first reading (Act 4:8-12). St. Paul, after being converted comes to Jerusalem full of zeal, and starts to preach and argued with the Hellenists, and soon they were fit to kill him. The brethren then moved him out of Jerusalem and sent him home to Tarsus. We learn that he is there for some time, probably a few years, before Barnabas went to get him (cf. Act 11:25) and initiated his fruitful preaching mission.

Paul went head first into the preaching, full of zeal, but might not have a strong enough relation with Jesus, not abide in Him to the extend that it would make him the fruitful apostle that he was to be... there is a balance needed between action and contemplation... a fact very close to the heart of St. Dominic and thus to the Dominican vocation as preachers!

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you." (Joh 15:7 RSV) The closer we get to God, the more our will is conformed to His, and the more our will is conformed to the divine will the more of our prayers are answered, as St. John tells us: " if we ask anything according to his will he hears us" (1Jo 5:14 RSV). The deeper our relation with Jesus becomes, a relation which can develop over time if we want to, the more our hearts are changed and the better our vision becomes on what is really important. Because we are starting to see what is really good and beautiful, our desires become the will of God and so God answers our prayers... we can see this in the lives of the Saints.

So, that might all sounds good... but how to go about it again...

In the first reading we read in the same letter St. John (1 Jn 3:18-24) that if our hearts are pure, if we keep Gods commandment to believe in the name of Jesus and to love on another, He will abide in Him, and we will see the fruits of that in our work. So we have to belief and love...

... and as God is love, perfect love, we should go to Him in prayer, so that though a relation with Him we might grow in love ourselves as it flows over from Him into us. By a better knowledge or God, by meditating the divine Word, by being silent and listening to His Spirit who dwells in our hearts, we become more like Him, and we become closer to the image we are made in.

We are back at the beginning... if you abide in me, I abide in you! If we make time for God, if we open the door (cf. Rev 3:20), Jesus will abide in us, and our hearts will become afire with His love... and we will go out to the whole world to proclaim the Good News, and to bear fruit!

(If anybody reads this reflection and has questions, request or suggestion regarding these writings, please leave a comment or email me using the form on the right)

I participate in the Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival , a weekly opportunity to share our best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. Please visit the host blog for the other posts.


Karinann said...

What a wonderful reflection. It kept bringing to mind something from St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue where God tells her to "Go forth from this place of contemplation and bear fruit that will last." There is definitely a connection between contemplation and action. Youcan't give what you don't have.
Thanks again and God Bless. I will keep your vocation in my prayers.

RAnn said...

Thanks for joining us! I like your blog.


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