Remaining in God's Love
5th Sunday of Easter (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

In this Sunday’s gospel about the vine and the branches (Jn. 15: 1-17), I notice a refrain. It is a word that keeps coming back. In fact it is mentioned twelve times in seventeen verses. It is the word remain. To remain is to stay. It connotes permanency and it also refers to continuity. One could remain in space or in time. One could stay in a place or continue in time. Thus, a person may choose to stay put in an address and remain in a relationship.

Action starter: God wants to be closer to you. Do you want to be closer to Him?

Jesus refers to the second connotation of remaining in a relationship when he said, “Remain in me, as I remain in you (v. 4).” “Remain in my love (v.9).” We may illustrate this by the example of two very close friends who are about to say goodbye to each other. One is going abroad and may not be able to come back for many years. They may be separated by space but they want to remain as friends. They may write or call each other, updating each other about their lives. Sometimes communications may be cut off. Sometimes only one side seems to be interested to keep the communication going. As long as one is still interested, there is still hope for that relationship to be rekindled and blossom.

If we transfer this example to the sphere of our friendship with God, then we are confronted with good news. The good news is that God who is love is continuous in His love. It is Gods nature. He is overflowing with love. God wants to sustain us by remaining in a loving relationship with us. God constantly communicates with us. The question is, do we want to be sustained? Do we want to be nourished by His ever-flowing love? Do we want to remain in Him? Are we open to His communication?

The temptation of post-modern men and women is to be completely autonomous from God. It is to cut off the connection of the branches from the vine. Given our technological advances, when we seem to be capable of doing anything we can imagine, we are tempted to be on our own . We do not want to be hampered by God's rules. We want to make our own rules, even in the moral sphere, in disregard of the laws of nature and the laws of God. The themes of Dostoyevskys novels more than a century ago about the consequences of a Godless world, has become a real one for us. To whom are we accountable? Either God exists or does not exist. If God exists, we certainly have to abide by His commandments. If God does not exist, then anything is permissible. Some post-moderns prefer to set aside the reality of God so that they can make their own rules and live their own lives without Gods interference.

For the believer, however, to believe in God is to remain in him and remaining in Him is keeping His commandments. Pleasing God is the test of true love, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love(Jn. 15:10).” His commandment is clear enough, “This I command you, love one another (v17).”

What then are the consequences of remaining in Gods love? One will bear much fruit (v. 5). One of these fruits is joy (v. 11). Of course, one who remains in God becomes Gods friend (v. 14). Friendship in itself is already a value. If a person cultivates your friendship just to be popular or to gain something, or to have more influence, then that kind of friendship is questionable. It is using friendship for some other end. On the other hand, in true friendship, it is the person himself that we consider important. Once a person becomes our friend, we try as much as we can to make that friend happy. We will do many things for the sake of our friend.

Remaining in Gods love is giving importance to God. It is valuing our friendship with God. God also values us, more than we can ever realize. God likes to be our friend. God seeks us. God wants to remain as our friend, father, lover, mother, or brother. The best thing that can ever happen to us is to remain in His love. The fruits will follow.