Jesus uses the word "abide" ten times in 11 verses today. God abides in Jesus, Jesus abides in God, we are to abide in Jesus, we are to abide in God. Jesus will abide in us. God will abide in us. And Jesus ends today with "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."
Abide is defined (at least by MacWord) as: tolerate something, dwell, await something, withstand something. When I hear the word "abide" I think of the negative: I cannot abide this "thing" any longer! So what is Jesus getting at with his "abide in me and I in you". I do not think toleration is that to which he is driving. I think it is dwell, to live within. I think there is the connotation of being able to withstand anything when we have Jesus abiding in us, dwelling in us. Perhaps, Jesus is saying that we can await the development of the kingdom he is announcing by allowing him to abide within us. And what if this "I am the vine" and we are the branches, which begins our Gospel selection today leading to this abiding talk, is all metaphor. A metaphor for the indwelling of Christ in all of us, changing how we move through our day, how we interact with all those we encounter.
By involving ourselves with a church community, participating in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, eating and drinking that which has been infused with the real presence of Christ, we are doing a physical act of incorporating Jesus into our being, allowing his presence to physically, palpably, become a part of us, to dwell in us.
We are urged by our Gospel reading to allow Christ to abide in us. Our world view can and will change if we allow this miracle to be part of our daily lives, allowing that joy Jesus says will infuse us to be complete. This is so hard to make a part of our understanding of how the world works, and yet this is what we are called upon to do by today's Gospel. A tough slog today, but one worth the effort.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Four Fold Action, jfd+ 2008