by Fr. Ignatius
By Fr. Ignatius L. Madya Utama, SJ

The topic of our May-June GNB edition, “Remain in Him and in His Words” (John 15:7), is a rephrase of the original text which says “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you ….” And this verse is a part of the second farewell discourse of Jesus (John 15:1-27); hence, to understand the message taken from this verse, we need to put it in this context.

In this second farewell discourse, Jesus presents the pattern of discipleship. He sets up three dimensions. First, our relation to Jesus (verses 1-11): to remain in Him and His words remain in us. Using the image from the Bible –the vine– Jesus gives different meaning to it. As the true vine, He is the true Israel, fulfilling the vocation in which the old Israel had failed (Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10-14). He is the trunk from which the branches sprout, namely all of us who live in Him. Our union with Him produces much fruits. These fruits are beautifully explained by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Second, the relation of believers to one another (verses 12-17). The measure of this relationship is determined by His own example; namely, laying down one’s life for one another. Fellowship with Jesus, fruits bearing, and prayer, all are dependent on obeying His commands to love.

Third, our relation to the world (verses 18-27). In the Johanine Gospel, “the world” always has pejorative meaning; it hates Jesus, it also hates His followers. Different from this Johanine perspective, the Second Vatican Council sees the world in a positive way. It understands the world as a place where GOD is still present and working to build His Kingdom. Therefore, as the followers of Christ we need to be in the world, to get involved in the world affairs in order to transform it in the pattern of His will, so that everything is in a very good condition (cf. Genesis 1: 31).

Against the above background, we can reflect on our life journey as followers of Jesus both personally as well as communally. Or put it in a better way, the above understanding of discipleship should become our vision both as a Christian person as well as a Christian community – Genesis Community!

Some questions can be raised for our reflection. In the area of our relationship with Jesus we can ask the following: How personally do I really know Jesus? What do I need to do to sustain and deepen this personal knowledge? What is the role of my community (my family, my friends, my parish) in this regard? How does this personal knowledge of Him shape my life? What important decision(s) did I make flowing from this personal knowledge of Jesus? Have I implemented this decision consistently?

In the area of our relationship with one another, we can ask: Do I take care for myself well so that I can also take care of others? Do I give priority to the needs of others without neglecting my own needs? Is my relationship with other people a mutually life-giving relationship?

Finally, with regard to our relationship with the world, we need to ask ourselves the following: Am I aware that as followers of Jesus I am sent to give witness to my faith in this world? Am I aware that the world is a place where GOD is building up His Kingdom, and I am invited to participate in His work? Do I take my day-to-day responsibilities seriously as a way of committing myself to participate in GOD’s work perfecting His creation? Is my life-style ecologically friendly, knowing that all of creation will share the glorious freedom of the children of GOD (cf. Rom 8:19-23)?

May GOD’s Spirit empower us to answer these questions positively.