Greek has a way of saying things that we lack in English. The grammar in today’s gospel bears special attention because it tells us that God’s love is always a concrete act, something real and tangible. There is nothing abstract about it. God loves Jesus. Jesus loves the Father. The Father sends the Son to us and Jesus comes to us in love. Jesus tells us to love one another. In today’s gospel St John is not speculating about God’s love but telling us what actually happened. Jesus came to us because of love and then lived that love in concrete ways. Our challenge is to make our loving action concrete in the world, to make it something real in real deeds. Friends of Jesus first, touched by his expansive love, we have the power to befriend the cosmos. In just such ways practical love reveals transformed hearts, spacious hearts as open as the heart of Jesus, hearts with the creative imagination for deeds that are concrete and real. Can we make that love real where we are? Resurrection love is real. It flows into action. Are we up to the challenge?
Remain in me, as I remain in you. These words represent the deep heart’s core of Christian spirituality. The challenge is to make room in our lives for the divine indwelling. To make room for the real presence of Christ in the world. The vine is Christ. He is our root. The Father is the vinedresser. We, as disciples, are the branches: and we are meant to allow the Christ-life in us, the resurrection life, the life of the Spirit, to produce good fruit. And who are the branches that are cut away? Those who knowingly refuse to bear fruit in the world. Those who knowingly betray the Trinity. Do you see the implications for Eucharist? Do you see the implications for lives characterised by justice and loving-kindness?
Today we reflect on part of the story of Nicodemus who came to Jesus one night. In the part of the story we have here Jesus is talking to Nicodemus who hadn’t really understood what Jesus was trying to teach him. Unlike the woman at the well in the next chapter, Nicodemus didn’t get the message. He didn’t get what Jesus was saying about spiritual rebirth and its necessity for entering God’s Kingdom. But this rebirth is the fruit of Jesus being lifted up. Here we are confronted by the meaning of Jesus’ Cross and Glory! Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). He is the light! Are we ready to come to the light, so that everything we do may be clearly seen as done in God? Are we ready to walk in the light?
Jesus’s passion and resurrection transformed the table of Jesus the prophet into that of Jesus Christ the Lord and made it the springboard for the church’s universal mission. If we are to be disciples who take seriously Jesus’s Easter greeting “Peace be with you!” and who offer this peace to one another around the eucharistic table, we need to create a space in our lives and our hearts where such peace with God and with our sisters and brothers can truly be at home.