May 5 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

One of the most stressful things I have experienced is being an altar server at an Ordination Mass. Not only do you have the eyes of the people on you, but also the eyes of all the seminarians, who know exactly when you make a mistake. One of the first times I served at an Ordination, I had the easy job of simply holding the bishop’s miter. All I had to do was wait for the Master of Ceremonies to tell me when to carry it over. During the actual Ordination Rite, we all had to come to the front of the sanctuary. The MC said to me, “Stay here, and I’ll tell you when to go back,” and then he walked away to do something else. I dutifully stayed in place, but noticed a second too late that everyone else was walking away, leaving me standing in the front of the church alone. Since the MC had disappeared, I followed everyone else in deep embarrassment.

In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Remain in my love.” When we hear the word “remain,” we think Jesus is saying something like what the MC said to me: “Stay here.” But Jesus doesn’t just tell us to “stay here” while He abandons us. He instead calls us to remain in friendship with Him, especially through prayer.

As we remain in prayer with Jesus, it might feel like we are doing nothing. In reality, we are allowing Jesus to work in us. This weekend, we have the great joy of celebrating our First Communions, and one of the most important things the First Communicants learn is transubstantiation—the change by which the bread and wine truly become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. But as Christ comes to us in the Eucharist and we remain with Him, He also works a transformation in us. He changes us to become more and more like Him.

As He transforms us to become more like Him, then we are able to “bear fruit that will remain.” This fruit remains, not because of anything we do, but because of Christ working in us. One way that we can become more aware of Christ’s Presence in us even as we leave the church is through a simple examination of conscience. All we have to do is pray, “Jesus, am I remaining in Your love?” The difference here is not that we’re focusing on what we did, but how we are remaining in relationship with Jesus, and the fruit will naturally grow from there.

When Jesus tells us to remain in His love, He isn’t telling us to stay here while He goes off to do something else like the MC did to me at the Ordination, but He wants us to stay with Him. As we remain in that friendship with Him, may we allow Jesus to transform us to become more like Him so that we can bear fruit that will remain.

Father Frank