May 2, 2021
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Dear Followers of Jesus,
I often hear people say they feel they do not belong. They feel isolated from family because of family disputes or conflicts or not feeling affirmed. They feel they are not part of the Church because of their past decisions. They feel the weight of other people’s disappointments and the fears others carry about family life. Feeling apart from loved ones is a very common experience. Feeling separated from God is healed in these Easter days of celebration, if we allow the grace of the gospels to take root in our fear.
John 15:1-8 reveals to us the words of Jesus, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” Jesus says to us that he is the vine, and we are the branches. In other words, we belong in him and through him and because of him. The Easter season is a renewal of our baptism. The real meaning of Lent is to open our hearts so that Jesus’ love can continue to show us that we belong. In the waters of baptism, we take our place. This gospel shows us that we are united to Christ Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection.
Sometimes we may think that our sin cuts the branches of our belonging to Christ. We may think that our actions separate us from God, since we are left so alone. Jesus invites us to remain in him, so that we can bear much fruit. This fruit flows from Christ into our world. We are to imitate the foundation of our lives, that is, we are to live in compassion, forgiveness, and unity in our world. Christ’s life is manifest totally within every believer. We do not live with scarcity in Christ, but in absolute abundance of mercy, and hope for all people.
Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want, and it will be done for you.” This is an incredible invitation. For all we know we don’t always get what we are looking for in the world. However, if we remain centered and in love with Christ Jesus, we can find our true desires, our fundamental longings in him. There will be no room for our feelings of not belonging if we remain centered in Christ. He alone will show us how to love and how to live in our world.
The Easter season invites us into communion with Christ. Our hunger for life is ultimately a longing for faith, hope, and charity in Christ Jesus. I pray that the Easter season brings you joy and not despair, hope and not discouragement, love and not isolation. I also invite you to sit with all the reasons you may feel you do not belong, either to your family or in the community of faith. I pray that you may be healed of such division, because you are loved by God no matter where you have been in life or the consequences of your life decisions. God is always here to welcome, to forgive and to offer us peace.
The joy of Easter is not about candy and pastel bunnies. The joy of Easter is rooted in the cross of Christ Jesus that gives us life over death, hope over despair, peace well beyond the violence we claim in our hearts. Easter is the root system of faith, offering us a place of belonging and peace.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you.”
God give you peace,
Thanks as always, Fr. Ron, for your words of hope and inclusion. May the joy of our risen Lord fill you and give all of us peace today!