May 3, 2015
EASTER V (B)
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. – John 15: 5
Over the triple doors of the Milan Cathedral in Italy there are 3 inscriptions spanning the majestic arches: carved above the arch on one side is a wreath of roses & the legend, “All that pleases is but for the moment.” On the opposite side is a cross & the words, “All that troubles is but for the moment.” Beneath the great central arch are simply the words, “That only is important which is eternal.”
This does not imply that that the only things that are important take place after we die. In Biblical terms, in Gospel terms, in Christian terms, what we do with our lives in the here-&-now is of the utmost eternal importance. Eternal life has already begun – it is now.
We are a part of God’s plan of creation. He has made us co-creators with Him, for better or for worse. That makes us His concern. Our coming into the world is of the utmost eternal significance. Our earthly journey, our relationship with God, our relationship with His Son, & our relationships with one another are of the utmost eternal significance. Yet one would never know it from the way most of us behave on a day-to-day basis.
While repentance (our willingness to change) is of the utmost eternal significance, it isn’t confined to some once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or even twice-in-a-lifetime. The Lord continuously calls us to do better, to try harder, to bear more fruit. The syndicated newspaper columnist, Sidney J. Harris, once told the story of visiting a certain friend, a Quaker …
Each night the friend would go to a newsstand to buy a paper. He always had a cheerful greeting for the news dealer, but the response was always curt, even sarcastic. After observing these encounters for several nights, Sidney said to his Quaker friend, “You are always so kind to that fellow. How can you be so friendly toward him when he is so nasty to you?” The Quaker replied, “Why should I let him decide how I’m going to act?”
For many of us, that is an important key to understanding the kind of change we need to make in our lives in order to be fruitful in the Biblical sense. Many of us unconsciously allow others to decide how we are going to act. We justify responding to hostility with hostility, saying, “Of course I’m upset. You’d be upset too if you had this so-&-so to deal with.” But this is only to admit that our life is being controlled by outside forces. Actually, I suspect it is just a cop-out to avoid admitting to ourselves that we really have no control over ourselves.
God never comes to us as a force from without but from within. Through the sacraments, He offers His grace to us from within. However fruitless our life may have been up until now, as long as we live & breathe we can change by clinging to Christ & letting His grace do its work.
If we’ve tried in the past & nothing seemed to happen, it is either because we only half-heartedly turned to Him, or we were unwilling to do our share of the work. One thing should be clear by now: without Him we can do nothing. AMEN!