REMAINING IN THE LORD!
Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflections
5th Sunday of Easter(B)
May 10, 2009
The world we live in is in too much of a hurry. The new generations, born in an era of jet and space travel, seems to be in perpetual hurried – and harried – motion! There is motion everywhere we go … mobility … movement … To sit still, be quiet, be stable and meaningfully connected is almost countercultural. What does one do all day at home? How does one spend the long weekend merely at home, when even the official government policy emanating from the highest executive offices of the land encourages movement, domestic tourism, and mobility on days when feast days and civil holidays are – you guessed right – “moved” to more auspicious and economically productive days? How does one expect to be sedately happy when “nothing’s going on” at home … where there’s no “happening,” no “gimmicks” taking place?
We all cannot sit still, immersed as we are in a world of malls with perpetually moving, whirring, humming and gyrating escalators, elevators, fun rides, computer games and roaring videoke machines kept in motion by patrons who are otherwise bored stiff at home, where “nothing worthwhile takes place.”
There is no sitting still for postmodern women and men – and kids all raring to grow up and be counted ahead of time!
And yet, the Lord talks about stability, connectedness, sitting still and being with Him! “I am the vine, you are the branches. “Remain in me as I remain in you … Remain in my love.”
Physicists talk of two types of forces: centrifugal and centripetal forces. The former refers to a moving away from the center. The latter refers to a moving toward the center. One wonders whether all this moving hither and thither, all this movement and mobility taking place in this noisy world, all this mad rush for something to perk us up and prime us for more draining activity upon activity, takes us nearer or takes us away from the center of our being as creatures of a God who revealed himself in and through Jesus Christ. The world and the culture in vogue seem to be like a giant centrifuge machine that spins us out of the center of our lives as believers.
There is in today’s liturgy an invitation for us to set our priorities right. We are asked to remain, to sit still, to stay connected, to keep in touch, to maintain our links with the only valid, life-giving URL in this WWW – whole wide world of relationships, where the only real and valid SITE that counts as most important is that which hosts the God of hosts, the God of relationships, the God who alone can give us the information and the LINKS that count and point to our salvation.
“Remain in me as I remain in you.” There is mutuality here, not a one-way traffic. God is always there, with us… God is always present. Our God is a God of fidelity. Such is a well-established truth that comes out over and over again in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament, such a divine trait shone out most explicitly and eloquently in the example of fidelity of Christ, who suffered death, even death on a cross.
Remain in me… How does one remain in the Lord when all we do is get away and get as far as is possible from what leads to him. We are used to SURF around. We change allegiances and alliances as fast as we click the delete button. We move in and out of temporary relationships as fast as we can change our SIM cards. And we can cultivate multi-level relationships as efficiently as we can introduce polyphonic tones in our cell phones. Fidelity and constancy do not seem anymore to attract the fancy of postmodern men and women. What sort of remaining in the Lord can we expect to do when we cannot even maintain long term relationships with people who are perpetually on the move?
Signs are afoot that tell us that the single most important trend and reality in the world now is movement and mobility. Young couples in the Philippines do not dream of a house of their own. The first thing they want to have is a car, preferably an AUV – or both! Young people do not dream of becoming topnotchers in the board or in the bar. They dream of moving out, being an OFW, traveling, getting elsewhere. How else explain the brain drain that is happening in the country? Apart from economic motives, there, too, is that desire to follow the trend, go with the flow, and that is to be on the move, to go elsewhere, never to be fossilized where there is hardly any future.
All this mobility is not bad in itself. But unless fully understood in terms of its consequences, it can impinge upon our spiritual life. That is where the liturgy today becomes meaningful for us. We need to remain in Christ. Remaining in Christ means, that in the midst of all this culture of mobility and motion, we ought to have a stable foundation that will help us navigate through the ups and downs of this world in perpetual motion. That foundation is union with God, in and through Christ, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Remaining in Christ is the foundation of our stability and fidelity that ought to help us go through life and the temptations if offers to the contrary. A throw-away world of consumerism hardly preaches thrift, constancy and fidelity. A text and cell phone crazed world cannot pass on in earnest the values of honest, sincere and meaningful communication. To get these values and live them, we need the foundation of a deep and real union with God that would then model all our relationships.
All this is to say that life needs a solid anchor base, a focused ground on which to attach one’s self and one’s life, instead of forever fluttering around like a butterfly, ever on the search for what temporarily fills and fulfills, and then moving on again when there is nothing anymore to wait for. There is so much that life offers us: new age, newfangled spirituality fads, new movements, new groupings and associations. Unless one is solidly based on a firm relationship with a personal God, one will forever be shifting allegiances like we change channels on TV. We need to make God a permanent fixture in our heart. We need to be solidly rooted in him if we want to bear fruit in plenty.
It is about time we settled in on Jesus. It is about time we focused our attention on him alone. It is high time we stopped flitting and fluttering like butterflies on a roll, sucking on and savoring the nectar of this world in constant motion. It is high time we understood that life at bottom, is not a matter of motion, but a matter of being at rest in God. For “restless are our hearts until they rest in God.”