Reflections on the Readings
Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 10, 2009, Year B - Mother's Day
By Dennis Hankins
1 John 3:18-24
Theme: Abide In Me
"I am come that they might have life, and that more abundantly." (Jesus)
What will we do with the invitation to enter into the life of Jesus?
I have pondered what these words sounded like to the disciples. I imagine the voice of Jesus gentle, persuasive and inviting. His eyes meet mine, he stops, letting me absorb the vastness of what I have just heard. Then he whispers, holding the Passover bread out to each of us, "Abide in me, abide in my love, this is My body."
Since a little boy, I have wished to be close to Jesus. In the church of my childhood, a personal relationship with Jesus was preached. Often I speak to my Lord and say, "Dear Jesus, hold my hand."
In today's Gospel reading, there is a profound offer to us to be close to Jesus. While many today urge converts to invite Jesus into their heart, I am struck by how Jesus invites us into his heart. The very words, 'Abide in me' and 'abide in my love', urge us to draw nearer to our Lord.
If Jesus' teaching is obeyed, we will live more in love, more in forgiveness, more in faith. The words of Jesus are spirit and life. This means that reconciliation and hope and mutual enrichment are possible. Like a branch that remains attached to the vine, we must remain one with him. Apart from him, we can do nothing. But if we live by his words, we abide in him, and the life and power of Jesus' words empower us to do what is right.
Throughout my life, I have met many wonderful people. They have enriched my life and encouraged me in the ways of the Lord. But the one who taught me from a baby to trust the Lord, was my mother. It was she who encouraged me to see with eyes of faith. Mother herself was prayerful, and it was she who by her example and words, helped me to believe in Jesus. Her faith still inspires me.
I remember the morning she left us, her body wore out from Lou Gehrig's disease. A night or two before she passed, I dreamed seeing mother young, vibrant and alive, clothed in a white robe, ascending into the heavens. After she passed, I remember going through a terrible spiritual dilemma. I was struggling with forgiveness, and in a dream mommy lovingly told me that I would have to forgive the people who had hurt me and my family. I remember saying, "But mommy, it's so hard." And she said, "I know it's hard, but you have to." I still remember the anguish and the struggle I felt in that dream, trying to commit to doing what was right. Well, you know you always have to do what mommy says. I wish I had done that better when I was growing up.
O' the closeness to Jesus mother taught me. It still is my hope and prayer to be as close to Jesus as possible. He has promised us a world of life and fulfillment if we will but trust and obey. There really is no other way to be happy in Jesus. If we will trust and obey, we will abide in Him who will fill our life with grace and truth. And in him we can do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever do on our own.
Jesus tells us if we abide in him and his words abide in us, we can ask whatever we wish, and it will be done. Now that's not about a laundry list of stuff and things, and getting the right numbers to the Powerball. It's about strength and power to do whatever is true, pure, and lovely. It's about bearing fruit as disciples of the Lord, and glorifying our Father.
Our joy is not full sometimes because we resist the pruning that comes with being a fruitful disciple. However, if we are to have the joy of the Lord in our hearts, we have to stay close to the life and power of the vine. To do that, we have to enter into an examination of conscience. Through that we are able to receive the forgiveness and absolution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We cannot love the Lord in talk only, we have to walk the walk. If our hearts are free and pure, we have confidence in God, and receive from him whatever we ask.
We are the branches and Jesus is the vine. By itself, a branch cannot bear fruit. To bear fruit it has to be attached to the vine. Neither can we bear fruit, unless we abide in Jesus. May we abide in Him, so that we may be the face of Jesus to all.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, you alone have the words of eternal life. May the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth be faithful to all that you have taught. Amen