We have just experienced “black out” or lack of electricity in the whole island province of Catanduanes right after the super typhoon Rolly. In our case here in St. Padre Pio Mission Church in Mayngaway, San Andres, it was only during the Holy Week that the electricity was restored in our place, almost five months after the super typhoon.
The sad thing is that there are still barrios in the province where the electricity is not restored. And we know very well how hard it is without electricity. We know that the lack of electric current affects our whole system of life especially these modern days during which almost all things depend on electric current. Without electricity we cannot watch television, hear music, and work in the computer; without electric current, our cell phones are usually empty battery, it is hot because there is no air-condition or electric fan and it is a total darkness during evening. As a result, we are somehow paralyzed because we cannot do anything simply because everything stops without electricity.
In the gospel for this Sunday, Jesus clearly compares Himself to a vine and us to branches and then declares: “Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch, and withers” (Jn 15:5-6). With these words, Jesus wants us to realize that He is the giver of the electricity in our daily lives. When we do not remain in Him, we cut off the electricity in our daily lives and we simply stop. We cannot move on in our spiritual lives since there is no grace that acts as the electric current that moves us to act according to the will of God.
The message of the gospel for this Sunday is cemented in the words of Jesus directed to each of us: “Remain in me, as I in you” (Jn 15:4a). This calling seems a very easy thing to do since it is not so hard to stay in the presence of God especially when we need Him or when we feel consolation with His presence in our lives.
But the actual challenge begins when we realize that remaining in Him does not mean being with Him for the time when we feel being with Him but rather staying with Him forever and always, in season and out of season. And this is the hardest thing to do. We usually cling to God and remain with Him when we feel the need of God; but when we feel and think that we do not need God at the present moment, we distance ourselves from Him and even ignore Him when we want to do things that are not according to His Divine Will.
Faithfulness is what we are asked to cultivate for us to become true followers of Christ. We cannot become genuine Christians if we think that following Him is for the time being only or when we think that learning from Him is as if learning in a school where there are a lot of vacations or when we think that following Him is like following a karate instructor that we can get rid of once we learn the techniques. No! Learning from and following Christ is for life and for all time. There is no vacation since it is a constant remaining in Christ.
Jesus Christ never abandons us and in fact has stayed with us so that we may remain with Him. The Holy Eucharist is the supreme proof of Christ’s love for us and willingness to be with us always. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ offers His body and blood in the forms of bread and wine. When we take the Holy Communion we receive Jesus Christ in His whole humanity and divinity and He remains with us. The challenge then for us is to remain with Him also. This we can do by living a Eucharistic life, that is, a life fully offered for the glory of God. This is what Christ wants us to do so as to remain with Him: that we may give our whole selves, our minds, hearts, whole being to Him and glorify Him in all the things that we do, think and say. Moreover, to stay with Him we have to love God and our neighbors just as He loves us. Loving our neighbors is serving them according to their needs and leading them to the Lord through our examples. (REV. FR. ORLANDO MENDOZA/FOOD FOR THE SOUL)
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(White) Cycle B/Year I (May 2, 2022)
Acts 9:26-31/1 Jn 3:18-24/Jn 15:1-8