Chapter Talk – 6th Sunday of the Year – May 22, 2022, cycle-C
We are still in the Easter season: the gospel reading of this Sunday and the gospel readings we heard during the week give us profound images for lectio, indeed for our lives. Some of these images are peace, abiding, the commandment of love, and the vine. In emphasizing that these words are images helps us to see the depth of their meaning, a meaning which is expansive and will continue to illicit life as we encounter them in prayer. Also, it is important to note that St. John’s gospel is full of spiritual meaning and depth and cannot merely be received in a literal way. These images are powerful, and Jesus uses them to awaken us to the new reality of his resurrected life, of how we are to encounter him in prayer and in our relations with one another. In a sense these readings form a collage of the resurrected life and awaken us to how we meet Jesus in the fabric of our everyday lives.
Listen to just a phrase from this Sunday’s gospel and some phrases of the gospel readings that we heard last week:
“My peace I give to you…Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27).
“Abide in my love” (Jn 15:9)
“I am the true vine…apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:1,5).
“You are my disciples if you love one another” (Jn 15:12)
Just holding, pondering the one image ‘abide’ offers us an ever-new encounter with Christ. The invitation is to abide in Christ, to abide in his love, to receive his peace. Perhaps everything flows from this. Indeed, abiding in Christ, means abiding in the radical love that Jesus revealed. It means as we abide in him, we receive his peace. Abiding opens us to his truth, his way, his life…In abiding we are taught. Pope Francis has said: “Many people feel internally fragmented, unable to find a fixed point, a stable footing, amid life’s changes. Jesus tells us that the secret of stability is to abide in him” (54th Prayer for Christian Unity). We need this ground, this inner point, this inner relation, or living encounter to find our direction and way. Without abiding in God our lives are ruled solely by our ego and then we are lost indeed, spinning over and over about a situation or a person. Or, held back, imprisoned by our fears. The only thing that can break this negative cycle is prayer…prayer that helps us to once again abide, abide in Christ.
Pope Francis emphasizes this point: “Jesus also showed us how to abide in him. He left us his own example: each day he withdrew to pray in deserted places. We need prayer, as we need water, to live.” By abiding in Christ through prayer, Pope Francis adds, “we can experience his love. And in this way receive new vitality, like the branches that draw sap from the trunk.” In abiding we are attached to the vine: “I am the vine you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15). Attached to the vine we receive new vitality where we experience the Divine life flowing through our lives. Attached to the vine, abiding, we will bear fruit, and it is a fruit that will last. Prayer is the antidote for ‘abiding’. “Prayer unfailingly leads to love; otherwise, it is empty ritual” says Pope Francis. The fruit of prayer is the living encounter with Christ and the grace given in the encounter will overflow into our lived lives with one another and in all our activities. Let us not let these precious words of Jesus go unheeded. We all need them.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess