5th Sunday of Easter - April 29, 2018 (Thoman)

5th Sunday of Easter – B April 29, 2018
Jn 3:18-24 | Acts 9:26-31 | Jn 15:1-8

“Remain in me and I remain in you, says the Lord.  Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.”

I. Are you on Facebook? Do you text?

Do you use a smart phone to better, and more quickly, connect with friends and
family? Do you use Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn? Have you ever reconnected
with a classmate or distant relative using modern means of communication? And, of
course, we still regular phone calls and the good ole’ reliable United States Postal
Service. These, and even other resources, are modern tools we use to connect and
build relationships. We have this insatiable desire – and need – to network.
These kinds of resources have been used to build honest relationships: for
example, adopted children have found their birth parents and siblings separated
in childhood have found each other years later.

II. Think of the contrast…being alone, isolated, separated, alienated from people.
People who are incarcerated have nearly all means of communication cut off.
Sometimes we have a falling out in relationships or life circumstances prevent us
from connecting with people. What is that like?
Illness is another example of brokenness.

  • when we are physically ill, we are out of sorts. We might become irritable,
    unkind, a whiner – not our true self. We have a deep desire to be healthy and
  • when we are ill we become much more stressed, worried and anxious. We can
    imagine our illness is worse than it really is. We start to envision all sorts of
    unrealistic scenarios. Our increased stress only makes matters worse.
  • when we are ill, we can also become broken spiritually. We can question faith,
    question God. We wonder if God really cares. We may ask ourselves, “Why
    me?” “Why now?”

Illness breaks down our connections and brings on another kind of isolation. 

III. Jesus also wants us to network – and his vision of living in community is even
deeper than all of what modern technology offers us. And we need to be in
relationship. Even if we don’t use all those tools of modern technology, even if
we are a bit of a loner and a deep introvert, we still need people: we need friends,
family and people to hang around with.
To describe this networking, Jesus gives us the image of a vine and the branches:
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. His vision of networking is his life
within us and among each other. In order for this network to be sustained, we
must remain in him, as he remains in us. And if we remain in him, we will be
fruitful. And it is essential that we are fruitful if we wish to remain in him. We
cannot just take life from Jesus: we must also give life to others.

IV. In the first reading, Saul – to become Paul – spoke openly about his new-found
faith. He didn’t hide it, but shared his experiences with others. And in the second
reading, the author reminds Christians of their commitment to love one another
and in that way remain in Christ.

Living a vibrant, sacramental life also helps us to remain in Christ. Through the
sacraments, we sustain and deepen our union with Christ.
The Sacrament of Anointing, which we celebrate today, is a prayer for healing
the brokenness we feel through illness.

  • we should pray for real physical healing – not just hoping or pretending –
    but prayer for physical healing: we want to be well!
  • we should for peace of heart and mind, for comfort: we want less stress,
    less worry. We want to be reassured that we have the love and support of
    the Christian community.
  • and we pray for spiritual healing: that our faith is strong, that we do not
    doubt, that we have hope, that we know God’s continuing love and care
    for us.

We all these ways we pray for building that network of life and love with Christ
and with one another.

V. Of course, the most important way we remain in Christ, and grow in that relationship
with Christ is through the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacrament we come back
to time and time again for the nourishment and strength we need to be faithful
disciples of Jesus. Through this sacrament, we will indeed remain in Christ and we
will bear much fruit.

(Fr. Dwayne Thoman)