Sunday Reflections: 5th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B
Acts 9:26-31; 1 Jn. 3:18-24
In today’s short Gospel passage, the phrase “remain in me and I in him” is mentioned three times. This is the key word to the teaching on “INDWELLING”.
St. John begins by presenting Jesus as someone exterior of us, who cares for us and loves us; he is the “Good Shepherd.” Then Jesus is called “Light of the world”, who makes our road easy to tread.
In chapter 4:14 Jesus began to talk about something inside us, when he told the Samaritan woman that the water he would give would “become in us a spring welling up into eternal life.” He was introducing the Holy Spirit who was to dwell within us. Then in chapter 6, Jesus spoke of himself as the “Bread of Life”. In v.56 Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” By Holy Communion we receive the Body of Jesus but he does not become part of the physical us, rather we become “Jesus”; the Fathers of the Church said: “We become what we receive.” In v.57 Jesus adds, “Just as…I have life because of the Father, so also the one who eats me will live because of me.” This is awesome; the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in me: God’s life is in me! In Jn. 10:30 Jesus says, “The Father and I are one,” and adds in v. 37, “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” This line is repeated by Jesus in chapter 14: 11. Then in 14:17 Jesus includes the Holy Spirit, “The Spirit of Truth …remains with you and will be in you.” The three divine Persons are now in me, not someone “out there”. In v.21 Jesus adds, “On that day you will realize that I am in the Father and you are in me and I in you.” In v.23 he adds, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Clearly, God “dwells” in me. How can many people even today refuse such a loving God? Many still claim they are atheists, or agnostics! Don’t they know the words of Jesus?
The Gospel of today is making this image complete when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him …will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” The sap that gives life to the whole vine is the same sap that flows to all the branches; clearly, the divine life that flows in and through Jesus is the divine life that flows in and through us. In theology we call it sanctifying grace; it is the divine life communicated to us by the Triune God. That is why we are called “sons and daughters of God”, which empowers us to call out: “ABBA, FATHER.” Christian, realize your DIGNITY.