”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Does ‘forever’ scare you?”
A high school senior recently asked me this as I was sharing about an upcoming ultimate commitment. Being committed “forever” to something can be a “scary” thought not only to an 18 year old, but even to growing adults! Forever in one job, forever in one city, forever living the same kind of life… We desire to know what it is that awaits us, but at the same time we want the freedom to be able to change, not to promise to remain the same forever.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus repeatedly invites us to remain in Him. In Spanish, to remain is permanecer. This kind of permanence, however, is not one that keeps us stuck in one place, because it is not about remaining in a job or a city, but about being permanently in relationship with Jesus. Being permanently in relationship opens up further doors, deeper experiences, greater interior freedom, and even possibility of meaningful change.
Maybe “forever” isn’t so scary after all.
—Sr. Jessica Kerber, aci is a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a women’s congregation of Ignatian Spirituality that is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.
Jesus, draw me close to you, and teach me what it is to remain in you. Dispel my fears, open doors where I put up walls, and lead me in the ways of true freedom. May my guiding desire be this: to be permanently united to you.
—Sr. Jessica Kerber, aci