The Gospel passage takes place at the Last Supper, Jesus’ final meal with his friends before His death. He had just dismissed Judas after announcing he would betray Him. He also had already told Peter that he would deny Him three times before morning. The other ten would abandon Him as well. So when he tells them, “Remain in me,” He is making a heartfelt plea to His closest friends. He knows full well that they will not remain with Him. But their bond is stronger than their actions on that fateful day. Though they do not remain with Him, they remain in Him as he remains in them, as he remains in us no matter how far we may wander.
Jesus uses the image of a vine. A vine does not grow straight up like a tree or most plants. Its stem hunts for anything to hold onto-posts, fences, and other plants. In doing so it reaches out to all, and all in its surroundings. Jesus, the true vine, also reaches out to all, (and all) are connected, not just to the vine, Jesus, but to everyone else. The vine continues to connect us with our neighbor across space and time, to a single community in their Lord.
That’s why I am so happy to be a part of the faith community here at St. James. One day of retirement was one day too many not to be connected and involved in a parish family. In the pandemic, the isolation and distancing from one another pointed out this great need to be gathered together. The church is most church when it gathers two or three in the name of the Lord. That’s why weekend Mass attendance is so important to our relationship with Christ and His people. Please reconnect yourself to being part of that vine, Jesus. Cut off from Him, we can do nothing. If we keep God’s commandments we will remain in the Lord, remain on the vine bearing much fruit.
Love, Peace, Joy,