“Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you 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. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” – John 15:1-8 (emphasis mine)
In college I was first introduced to a form of prayer called Lectio Divina. This is an ancient form of praying with the Scriptures. The way it was first taught to me is that you read/hear a section of Scripture and listen. Just listen. Read or hear the passage a second time and then listen for the phrase or sentence that sticks out the most. Listen a third time for the single word that pops out the most, even if it isn’t in the phrase or sentence that stuck out upon the second reading. Finally, listen a fourth time to the whole passage and try to digest what God is saying to you through His Word. The passage from the Gospel according to John was the Gospel reading for this past Sunday. Now, at Mass the priest or the deacon doesn’t read each reading four times so that we can all practice Lectio, but this Sunday I didn’t need them to. The first phrase that jumped out at me was “remain in Me.” I almost stopped listening to the rest of the Gospel because I was so lost in the simple phrase, “remain in Me.” I was digesting what it ment and turning it over in my mind. I said it over and over again in my mind until I was nearly lost in it all together. Then it kept popping up. Remain in Me. Remain in Me. Sure, there were other phrases and words that stuck out to me but remain in Me kept coming up, as though it were a gentle reminder from God of exactly where I need to be.
Sometimes we get lost in the world, sometimes we get lost at work or what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. Sometimes I get caught up with where Mr. Irish and I are in our relationship, sometimes I get caught up in where I am with my situation at work and sometimes I get caught up in being lazy. The reality is that none of those are truly where my heart and head need to be. Remain in Me. A gentle, loving reminder from Jesus Himself that He wants me to remain in Him, with Him and to rest my heart in Him always. As I listened to this passage I couldn’t help but wonder when else Jesus tells us to remain, to stay or to simply be. Then it hit me: with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray” (Mark 14:32). Remain in Him, stay and pray with Him. The message is simple but we forget it far too easily, which is exactly why it gets repeated five times in this Gospel passage: remain in Me. When you are doubting, remain in Me. When you are worried, remain in Me. When you are lost, remain in Me. When you are joyful, remain in Me. Find peace, comfort and rest in His arms. Remain in Him. It doesn’t mean, come stay a while and then leave, it means stay, remain, be still here. Continue always in this same state of living: within Him. Remain in Him and He shall remain in you, lest you be pruned and thrown out like a branch to wither and die.
In high school during Lent the choir used to end every Mass with the simple chant, “Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray.” It was repetitive and beautiful because it draws you in to the simplicity of God and His desire that we always remain with and in Him. Below is a clip of that chant, may you find comfort in life by remaining in Him.
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