Three Ways to Remain in Christ
Fifth Sunday of Easter [B]
May 2, 2021
Jesus said, “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me [John 15:4].” To remain in Jesus is not just an option but a necessity to bear fruits of eternal life.
The question is how we are going to remain in Jesus? We can do at least three ways. Firstly, we need to remain in His Word. Jesus said, “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. [John 15:3].” How can we remain in Jesus if we do not know Him? How can we know Him if we do not read His stories and teachings in the Bible? That is why St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Often, we, Catholics, are accused of not reading the Bible enough. While the accusation might be false, the invitation to read and reflect on the Bible remains true. Reading Scripture may be challenging, but it has its precious rewards.
Secondly, we remain in Him through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him [John 6:56].” We face a difficult time because of the pandemic, and many people are deprived of the Holy communion. None can replace the sacramental union with Christ in the Eucharist. As a priest, I am saddened by the situation, but at the same time, I am glad because ‘absence makes the heart grows fonder.’ Often, I see some of the faithful shed their tears when they receive the Body of Christ after a long absence. The pandemic forces us to reflect more profound on the meaning of the Eucharist in our lives. Sometimes, we need to learn from the saints. Bl. Alexandrina da Costa of Portugal consumed nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 13 years until her death. The bread of life truly nourishes the soul, and when the soul is healthy, the body will manifest this vigour.
Thirdly, we remain in Christ by staying in the Church. Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, and because of one vine, all the branches are closely interconnected. One branch does not live for the sake of itself but the entire plant. One healthy branch can contribute to the wellbeing of the whole ecosystem, and at the same time, another branch may require more nutrients and support from other parts of the plant. This is why I will encourage people to be part of a community and be active in the local Church. The Church has extremely diverse communities within her. There are groups based on age. There are communities based on spiritual traditions and devotions. While it is true that being part of a community may be difficult sometimes, it also provides the opportunity to grow and love.
These are three ways that we may remain in Jesus, and Jesus remains in us. We continue to grow and bear fruits for the glory of God.
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP