Amazing words from Jesus Christ

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde for the Fifth Sunday of Easter and the state meeting of Virginia Knights of Columbus in Richmond.

Jesus just said in our midst some amazing words. Did we really hear Him? And did we actually understand what He said? What are these amazing words? "Remain in me as I remain in you." Jesus did not say. "Remain close by Me" or "Remain near Me." And these would have been wonderful invitations. No, He said "Remain in Me and I remain in You."

So, how do we remain in Jesus and He in us? Is there some way we can better understand? Is there some analogy that says to us: "You see, it's like this …"?

Jesus, in fact, gives us the analogy, one taken from the world of agriculture, in today's Gospel account. Often, we call this account "The Parable of the Vine and the Branches." Well, we know something about vines and branches or about a tree trunk and its limbs, or about a plant whose center stalk has small stems inserted into it. The branches live and grow precisely because they receive their life - their nourishment - from the center vine or tree trunk or stalk. And if and when, they are no longer inserted into that source of life, they will soon wither and die.

So, Jesus is telling us that unless we are inserted into Him, like a branch into the center vine, we too will wither and die. "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." And He adds almost immediately, "… because without me, you can do nothing."

Even though we understand better what "Remain in Me" means and why, how do we actually remain in Him?

He Himself gives us the unique way by which we are inserted into Him. In this way, we can and do remain in Him as He too remains in us. What is this unique way? In each Holy Mass in which we take part. At each celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Jesus makes present in our midst His Dying and Rising and then also provides the unique way in which we are inserted into Him: through Holy Communion. The very word "communion" means "union with." In Holy Communion, Christ Jesus, really and truly present, and each one of us becomes one. Notice: He comes under signs of nourishment - bread and wine, telling us that He is our nourishment, the very source of our strength and life. How do we get through the week without at least once, either on Saturday evening or Sunday, becoming one with Him in the Eucharistic Sacrifice?

This unique way of enabling us to remain in Him and He in us also strengthens us to experience this oneness in other, but less unique ways: in daily prayer; in reflection on His life-giving Word in Scripture, perhaps through what we call Lectio Divina; in other forms of prayer and devotions; in encountering His Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, and in our tangible and intentional outreach to the needy and the poor among us and beyond us, like our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East and like our suffering brothers and sisters in Nepal. As we heard in today's second reading, "… let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth."

Only when you and I remain in Jesus and He in us, can we do what He sends us forth to do as "missionary disciples" and as members of the Knights of Columbus along with our wives and family members. All year, we have been seeking to put into practice: "Be Faith In Action." Without Him, we cannot witness to others about Jesus Christ and the amazing power of His encounter with us, especially in the Eucharist. Without Him, we do not have the enthusiasm, the zeal, and the strength to proclaim the truth in love and with conviction: the truth about human life, from its first moment at conception to its last moment at natural death; the truth about the only fundamental meaning of marriage imbedded in the very nature of the human person; the truth about family life, with its challenges and privileges; the truth about vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life; the truth about God's special ones: those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. But, when we remain in Jesus and He in us, we can do everything He asks us to do! We can "Be Faith in Action."

Yes, amazing words which Jesus speaks to our hearts today! As He once again enables us to remain in Him as He remains in us in this very Eucharistic Sacrifice, let our hearts say: "Stay with me, dear Jesus, remain in me, because without you I am powerless. But with You, I can do whatever You ask me to do. Come, Jesus, stay, remain with me until I see You face to face!"

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015