5th Week of Easter year B 2015:
Bear much fruit and become my disciples. Our gospel today ends with this inspiring message from Jesus. He has big plans for us. He wants us to carry out his mission in the world. He came to bring us good news, to heal the sick, to lift up the fallen. And, he wants to continue his saving ministry, but now he does it through us, his disciples, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I think it is good to remember that Jesus has work for us to do. He wants us to bear fruit.
But, one thing is for sure, we are always busy. The other day I was talking with a parishioner here and we were discussing our busy schedules. I was saying that I had several meetings, masses, confessions, and visits to the hospital and homebound, all in one day. She says: oh yeah, try being a mom. Good point, she got me there. The joys of modern parenting: wake up early, get the kids up, cleaned up, dressed, fed. Make them lunch. Get them to school. Take them to the doctor. Pick them up from school. Take them to practice. Wait in the car. Sit in the rain and watch them play soccer. Wait in the car some more. Help them with homework. Make sure they eat properly. Get them to bed on time. On and on. It seems like we just keep getting busier and busier.
So when we hear Jesus say: bear much fruit. It sounds like we need to add even more to our busy lives. But, I think it is important to remember that our life of faith never competes with our daily lives. We don’t have to choose between loving God or loving our families. Rather, we should see these things as being beautifully united. Have you ever thought of waiting in your car for your kids as an act of prayer? Or simply being kind and respectful at the grocery store or while driving can be an act of discipleship of Jesus. How can we see everything in our daily lives as an act of love or prayer?
Remain in me, as I remain in you. I think this little line really holds the key to the life of discipleship as we go about our busy lives. It is certainly true that Christ calls us to bear much fruit, that we are called to lives of active discipleship. But, if we don’t remain in him, we will lose our focus. Staying connected to Christ is the only way to be sure we are doing everything for him and with him. Like I just said, being a disciple does not compete with our daily lives, but it gives our lives meaning and direction. Staying connected to Christ is the key to discipleship.
I am convinced that there is no better way to stay connected to Christ than through the sacraments. Jesus gave us these gifts as his abiding presence among us. By the power of the sacraments we stay connected to Christ and he lives within us. This weekend is a special weekend for us here at St. Jude, Saturday morning we celebrated first Holy Communion and Sunday afternoon Bishop Rhoades will be here for Confirmation. It is a joy to see these sacraments at work in the lives of our young people. At the first communion mass I asked the kids: “what do all 7 sacraments have in common?” One child responded: Jesus. What a perfect answer! Through the power of the sacraments we get in touch with Jesus. Through the power of the sacraments, we remain in Jesus, we stay connected to him. This is how we find the power to bear much fruit for him in our daily lives.
So, think again about the power of these sacraments. Especially consider the sacraments of confession and Eucharist. If it has been a while since you’ve made a confession, plan on going in the next week. Ask Christ to forgive your sins and grow closer to him through that sacrament. Make a commitment to grow closer to Christ in the powerful prayer of the Holy Eucharist. There is no better way to stay connected to Christ than to receive him in this sacred mystery. Maybe even consider attending Mass during the week. (Mention the magnet) I know that the daily celebration of the Eucharist has been an important part of my spiritual journey even way before becoming a priest.
Jesus has great plans for us, whether these plans include taking care of your kids, being kind to others, or giving of your time, talent, and treasure for the building up of God’s kingdom. He wants us all to bear great fruit. But, as Jesus says today: without me you can do nothing. Here at this mass, and through the power of all the sacraments, we are here with Jesus. And through this powerful connection with Christ we can go out from this mass and bear great fruit.