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Abide in Him: Weekly Message for 01-26-2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
Yesterday, with the Feast remembering St. Paul’s conversion, we concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and the motto for this year was “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (cf. John 15:5-9). What great advice not only for Christian Unity but for starting 2021 after a trying and troubling 2020. It’s inspired by the Lord’s Last Supper discourse where he describes himself as the true vine. In that discourse he invited the disciples, like he invites us, to remain in him (or “abide” in him, depending on what translation of Sacred Scripture you prefer). Jesus is that true vine, that trunk, from which the Holy Spirit flows and gives us life. However, just abiding in the vine is not enough. The vine is not just drawing life from the trunk; with its leaves, it is gathering life from the sun and with the water to give life to the rest of the vine as well. That is why Jesus reminds us that the sign of any healthy vine is its fruits. When God sees we’re putting out feelers or heading in fruitless directions, he nips those feelers in the bud. That can hurt, but, just like a doctor poking and prodding at what ails us, it is a necessary pain.
2020 was a year where all the vital connections in our life were strained, if not severed: separated from family and the sacraments due to COVID-19, economic uncertainty, and neighbor pitted against neighbor due to political issues. It was a year to remind us of the most important vital connection, the vital connection that sustains all others if we let it: our vital connection to Christ. St. Paul, whose life took a radical turn in an unexpected way, explained the indestructibility of this vital connection eloquently when he said:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).
We can separate from the Lord, but he will never separate from us. That vital connection can sustain us no matter what life throws at us. The fruit of that vital connection will be a society healed spiritually as well as physically. Our retreat guide Christ Alone is Enough: a Retreat Guide on St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians might help you explore and benefit more from abiding in Our Lord.
May you abide in the Lord this year and every year.
Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.
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