Homily(2) 5th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Acts 9: 26-31 Ps 22:26-32; 1 John 3:18-24 and John 15:1-8
Remaining in Christ Jesus
In the last discourse of John’s Gospel which we began reading last Sunday, Jesus continues to remind his disciples, of who he is. Jesus is not only the Way to the Father, he is the Truth, the Life (John 14), and the Vine (John 15), to whom we must remain as branches. He knew that his death would be devastating to the disciples, humanly speaking. We saw this in the conversation the two disciples on the way from Emmaus had. We saw this in Mary Magdalene. We saw this in Thomas and others.
After his resurrection, Jesus would not only have to appear to them here and there, but sometimes would eat fish with the disciples to show that he was still there with them. Apart from his appearances he knew he would ascend to the Father who sent him originally. Although the coming down of the Holy Spirit on the Church was on the way, it was important for Jesus to stress the importance of his disciples sticking with him ( Gr. menō), remaining with him, consistence in doing good, in loving and believing, holding onto Jesus, his teachings, after he was gone physically.
He uses the imagery of the vine and the branches to drive home his point. Jesus is the vine, the source of life and nourishment, and we are the branches- nourished by the vine. Whoever remains in him bears abundant fruits- because without Christ we can do nothing. Vine branches you know can’t survive on its own without the parent tree.
Take faith for example. Faith, trust is a wonderful gift, and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is that spiritual nourishment that comes only from Christ the vine. As we are told in the 1st reading, it was not easy for the Disciples of Christ in Jerusalem to trust the repented Saul. They knew him to be a terrorist, a murderer and a persecutor of Christ. It takes faith and nourishment from God for us to trust one another, not to be afraid of one another. It takes faith and trust to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in the Lord, irrespectively of our cultural or biological differences. We need each other.
What about the fruit of joy, peace in peace less world of today? (Think of the current Police/Black community crisis in Baltimore, and all over the United States today, as well as the proliferation of violence in the world). We need patience in a world that everybody is in a hurry today. We need kindness, goodness, faithfulness to our vows and church’s teachings that sometimes slip away from custody. We need gentleness and self-control in a modern world filled with greedy tendencies. We need to remain with commandment of forgiveness and love (Gal 5:22), as well as allow Christ to take control of us, to prune us so that we can bear much fruits.
The more reason the author of 1st John insists today that, “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 he gave us” (1 John 3:18-24). In other words, the best ways to remain in Christ is to live joyfully, lovingly, peacefully, selflessly, with patience-endurance, allowing Christ to prune us, forgiving those who have offended us, and showing sincere kindness to one another.