Remain in Me

I am the vine, you are the branches
Whoever remains in me and I in him
will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing
John 15:5

This prayer of Jesus during the Last Supper shows us that the true source of good is Jesus. As a person, we cannot bear fruit outside of Jesus. More so as a family and as a community.

The secret in being fruitful in our lives is to be attached to Jesus - and Jesus alone. Very often, in our lives, we tend to resolve things through our own skills and knowledge. But as we grow in faith, the Lord leads us to a deeper relationship with him. Things that affect us will be more of his doing than on our doing. We learn to trust in the Lord and to do his will - even if it will mean a lot of hardships for us.

Before I got to know the Lord, I was contented with my relationship with him. I felt that visiting the church whenever it was convenient for me was enough. My faith did not grow because my knowledge of the Lord was not growing. Because my knowledge of the Lord was not growing, my perspection of things did not change. I did things based on what I thought was right. I also did things depending on my own skills and knowledge. What mattered then was what I thought and what I could do. Sure I knew that there was God. I knew that Jesus is the Son of God. But I was not living my life in him. So my life was not as fruitful as it should be. There were successes - but all these were 'trophies' I won for myself and by myself.

When I got to know the Lord, the Lord made it clear to me that this is not the right attitude. I realized that calling Jesus as my Lord meant that I had to be fruitful for his glory and by his power. The Lord sure did a lot of work in me and he still is doing a lot in me so that I can indeed be as fruitful as he wants me to. I learned that very often, my good intentions were not really the Lord's intentions. I would sometimes think that people who go against me behaved that way because the Holy Spirit was not in them. Those times were really difficult for me because the Lord used them to humble me and tell me that my ways are very contrary to his ways.

In a community, there is bound to be disagreements. We are unique individuals and therefore share different views on various issues. But we have to always remember that we do not have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit. We very often fall short of what the Lord has planned for us.Therefore we should be humble enough to admit that we do not have all the answers to all the problems in the community. However, this does not mean that we should just sit back and agree on everything.

For one thing, if something is immoral (i.e. clearly against the teaching of the Church), we have to take a stand even if others would not. Keeping quiet just to keep the peace in the community is not a valid excuse because we will eventually have to answer to the Lord on all the things that we have done. Some communities teach about obedience. Well, that is good. But obedience is not blindly obeying what is told us. God gave us the free will so that we can discern for ourselves what the Lord wants for us. And if a leader tells us to do something that is immoral or illegal, then we are not bound to obey it.

If you have to leave the community and let the Lord deal with the issue - then by all means leave the community. But do not make this decision lightly or at the spur of the moment. Discern it well and be humble before the Lord. Seek God's will and if you believe that the Lord wants you to leave the community, then do so. But make sure that you tell the leaders that what they are doing is immoral or illegal as the case may be.

For leaders, one word of advice. Do not think that you know more than your flock. Do not think that the Holy Spirit speaks to you just because you are a leader. I have known leaders who go attend a lot of seminars yet do not spend time in silent and scriptural prayer. Attending seminars is good but it will never replace the personal time before the Lord. How can one be the Lord's designated shepherd when he does not know the Lord himself? They will be blind guides leading the blind to fall into a pit. And if that happens, you will be held accountable for that!

Remember, we bear fruit only if we remain in Jesus. Without Jesus, we cannot bear fruit. If we always do things our way, we will not be as fruitful as the Lord wants us to be. May Jesus show us how to lead others with love as he led others with love. And may he also show us how to obey with trust as he also obeyed the Father with trust.

God bless us all.