To Remain ... To Grow

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

"Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing." (John 15: 5b)

Faithful discipleship requires the disposition to remain in our Lord Jesus Christ. This remaining is essential for our growth in faith and holi­ness in our daily lives. Nevertheless, as time goes by, to remain might become difficult or burdensome. The disciples of Jesus had moments of discouragement, confusion, and tiredness in their journey with the Lord also. It was difficult for the disciples to remain in Jesus especially when he was rejected and persecuted by some of the authorities of the time. After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples of Jesus became the target of the same rejection and persecution. One might wonder how many times the disciples were discouraged not only by the rejection and persecution but also by the divisions and misunderstandings within the internal life of their own communities. How could someone remain in the Lord under such circumstances?

According to the writings of John, especially today's Gospel and his letter, to remain in the Lord comes from the fact that Jesus remains in us first by giving us the Spirit (1 John 3:21). Jesus takes the initiative to give us the Spirit. Jesus takes the initiative to remain in us, this is why in the gospel he identifies himself as the true vine. The vine is the one who gives life to the branches for them to produce much fruit. In this case the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice that the first fruit is love. This leads us to the other aspect of remaining in the Lord: to remain in the Lord means to remain in his love in the way Jesus taught us: "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). To keep this commandment is essential for the disciple to remain.

For the disciples of Jesus, those from the past and from the present, it is very clear that first, as the branches received life from the vine, we receive life from Jesus; second, times of rejection, persecution, division, and misunderstandings are opportunities for us to remain and grow not only in faith but in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control: and third, all this is possible not because of our own initiative but that of Jesus in giving us his Spirit. For all these we give thanks to the Lord and plead to him that in the midst of all adversities we remain in him.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.