“Abide in me, as I abide in you.” I have been thinking about these words from Jesus for a month now. Every now and then they rise into my consciousness and sit for a few moments and I get to soak in the significance. Jesus didn't say I want you to like me or to love me, he said "abide in me", from abode or residence. "Reside within me as I reside within you". He is not even suggesting it, he is telling us. We must become one. When we are full of Jesus's spirit and full of his presence within us, then our thoughts become His thoughts, our intentions and actions His intentions and actions, and our words His words. In other words, we become "holy, as my Father is holy." Not on our own, but because we allow the Jesus that abides within us to shine His glorious light through us.
After eight months of Sunday School classes our students were ready for the big day when they were going to receive the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. The last Bible passage we studied was John 6:47-59. Jesus was teaching that he was the bread from heaven and that whoever would eat His flesh would live forever. The Jews, including a number of His disciples, were taken aback by His comments. Is he asking us to become cannibals and eat Him? This is crazy. Instead of saying that he simply meant it as a symbol, he repeated His message with even more conviction. He was likely revealing the Sacrament of Eucharist he was going to institute during the Last Supper. A Sacrament in which the species of bread and wine contain His real presence. He said " Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;" What is the purpose of the Eucharist, this mystery of faith? It is to be in total communion with Jesus. Jesus then said "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me."
Another beautiful and relevant Bible passage where Jesus also teaches us about His desire to have this intense union with us is the “Jesus the True Vine”, John 15:1-11. He tells us "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." Although the vine and branches are separate parts, they are also one and the branches can't function without the life giving sap from the vine. How do we maintain this intense "oneness" with Jesus? In this passage he tells us to allow His words to abide in us, His love to abide in us and to follow the commandments. Basically by continuing to strengthen our faith through prayer, following the commandments, reconciliation, studying and living the words in Bible, and receiving His grace through the sacraments.
But there's more. While faith is the beginning of salvation, we also need works, good deeds. We need to produce fruit. We are called to be more than simply nice looking branches totally attached to the vine. "... my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit." We produce fruit by living our faith through love. We do it by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving water to the thirsty, providing spiritual and emotional support and many other expressions of love. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love” (Gal 5:6)
"Abide in me, as I abide in you." "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."