5th Sunday of Easter B - Homily 1

Homily 1 - 2006

There are some mind-blowing statements in today’s readings from John.  There is a lot of talk about: living in Jesus,  Jesus living in us, God living in us.  God: the one who gives existence to the whole cosmos, right at this moment, is living in us, is alive in us.  Jesus: the man the Gospels speak about; the one whose radical message God vindicated by raising him to life. The living, risen Christ, is living in us, right now.

In today’s epistle, John says that all this is something we can experience if only we take the time to observe.  He says that we can know that God is living in us by the Spirit that he has given us.

Fortunately Paul has given us a further way of verifying that.  In one of his epistles he lists of what he calls some fruits of the Spirit, among them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness.

When you stop and think, they are a description of a truly beautiful person, a fully mature human person: loving, enjoying life, at peace, patient, kind, under control, good, reliable, gentle.

As these gifts grow firmer within us, they show the essential beauty of God to the world in digestible form.  As Jesus said: It is to the glory of the Father that you bear much fruit.

Saint Irenaeus, a wise Christian writer from the late second century, once said:  "The glory of God (that is, what can be seen of God and understood by us human persons) is the human person fully alive."

The glory of God is the human person fully alive.

How does all this growth, this maturing, come about? How do we come to bear much fruit?

In today’s gospel Jesus says: Whoever remains in me, with me in them, bear fruit in plenty.  Earlier he had said: Make your home in me as I make mine in you.

So we need to live in each other’s company, Jesus and I.  We need to spend time together, hang around together, waste time together.  Ultimately that is what praying is.

Jesus seems to be saying that by living in each other’s company, by remaining in him, making our home in him, we become like him.

That, of course, goes hand in hand with our growing in love.  As John said in the Epistle: Whoever keep God’s commandments live in God and God lives in them.  And then it went on to say: God’s commandments are these: that we believe in the name of God’s Son Jesus Christ, and that we love one another as Jesus has told us to.

So we need to make our home in Jesus, and we need to love one another.

Growing in love also goes hand in hand with something else – the pruning of our tendencies to self-centredness, self-interest, selfishness.  Life provides the opportunity for that to happen.  God makes use of our experiences to prune us, as Jesus says: Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more fruit.

The whole business is rather wonderful - great to ponder over during this season of Easter when the liturgy keeps clearly before our minds Jesus, whose attitude to life and whose message God vindicated by raising him from the dead; and, in this way, has made it possible for him to live in us, and for us to live in him.