SAINT DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, PRIEST (OPTIONAL MEMORIAL)
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
This is such a popular saying from Jesus, but what does it mean to “remain”? Various dictionaries and thesauruses offer more than fifty different synonyms, ranging from “linger” to “persist” to “rest.” That’s a lot! But in today’s Gospel, “remain” primarily means two things. It means to continue to be in the state you are already in. And it describes an action—to choose moment by moment not to move away, but to stay.
Remain in me. We have already been grafted into Jesus’ life through Baptism (Romans 11:17), so all we have to do is stay there. We just need to continue in his love since he has already placed us in him.
We know how easy it can be to lose sight of this wonderful truth. And that’s where the second meaning of “remain” comes in. Because we can forget, we need to choose to unite ourselves to Jesus each day. As a branch is nourished by the vine that supports it (John 15:4-5), we can find nourishment from Jesus’ grace to help us stay close to him. It’s the grace to trust him even in the midst of trials, to receive the strength to fight sin, or to cling to him for guidance when we face hard decisions.
Remaining in Jesus like this may seem demanding, but he promises to help us. How?
As I remain in you. We can remain in Jesus because he chooses to remain in us. He is committed to us in love. He is connected to us even when we might not feel so connected to him. So every time we choose to stay close to him, he’s already there to cheer us on. And when we need to return to him, it’s easier to make that move because he’s still right beside us.
This is the constant exchange of life and love that sets our hearts at rest—Jesus remaining in us and we in him. We see it when he fills us with peace during our prayer time. We see it in the grace to be faithful in our marriage or friendships. We see it when we are moved to repent or reconcile with someone we have hurt. And we see it in the love he pours into us that moves us and strengthens us to serve the people in our lives. That’s the fruit of remaining in him.
“Lord Jesus, thank you for remaining in me. You are my place of rest. I am so grateful to remain in you.”