May 3, 2010

Abiding in the Lord

Jesus' command to his disciples: Remain in Me.   What does it mean to "remain" in the Risen Lord?  At the same time He sits at the righthand of the Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts.  He remains with us in this way until the end of time.  But what does it mean for us to remain in Him?

To abide in the Lord means to be lovingly attentive to his presence - all the different presences with which he blesses us.  He is present in our hearts and in the hearts of those entrusted to us.  He is present in the poor, the suffering and the lonely.  He is present in those who suffer for righteousness sake.  He is present in the prisoner and the condemned.  He is present in the priest. He is present in the Church and in all the members of the Church.  He is present in all the sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament which we refer to as "real" presence.  To remain in Jesus means to attend to all these presences of Christ in all the different ways his presence demands - to adore, to love, to comfort, to feed, to cloth, to console.  

To remain in the Lord also means we must renounce remaining in anything that is not the Lord.  Here, Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity sheds some light.  She puts these words in the mouth of Jesus:

"Remain in Me, not for a few moments, a few hours which must pass away, but "remain ...." permenantly, habitually, Remain in Me, pray in Me, adore in Me, love in Me, suffer in Me, work and act in Me.  Remain in Me so that you may be able to encounter anyone and anything; penetrate further still into these depths."

How many encounters with people in our lives do we allow to be distractions from the Living God - when such encounters should be thresholds, instead?   We remain in our righteous indignation or arrogance or harsh judgment or avoidance or vengeance.  We abide in emotional distance to protect ourselves so that the plight of the person the Lord has given us for this moment might not pierce our hearts.   We abide in our selfish preoccupations so that we see everyone else, especially the Lord, as someone or something to satisfy our own emotional, physical and spiritual needs.   We abide in our work because at least there we produce something against which to measure ourselves and everyone else.  We abide in the esteem of others.  We abide in self-pity. 

By faith, we can choose where to abide, where we will let our hearts rest.  But our hearts are made for love and if we try to rest in anything that is not love, we cannot really live.  We do not have to abide in anything that leads to death.  If we want to live, we can choose abide in Christ Jesus, who is love incarnate.  He holds the secret of liviing life to the full and has won the right to give this life by his death on the cross.  He yearns to give this life to everyone - not only after we reach the end of our days, but even right now, today, this present moment.