Better together. From the beginning of creation, God declared: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” (Gen 2,18) God created a partner for Adam with whom he could share his life and his blessings. From that partnership of marriage came a family and that family became a community and that community became a people, called to be holy and righteous before God. The holy people of God has become the Church, the bride of Christ. Life begins as a relationship with others. The others in our life help us to discover who we are and what the gifts are that we bring to life. We would never come to know ourselves living alone. Our life is given to us by others who teach us about ourselves. Our life is a gift that is given to us by others and then is meant to be given back in the humble service of love. Living in community with others we learn to love. If we only had ourselves to love our love would not bear fruit in true love. True love is learned only by giving our life for the good of another. The path to love leads us to understand that our lives do not really belong to us. We belong to something greater than ourselves and we owe our love to others. St. Paul tells the Romans: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13,8) We must first love one another before we can rise to a new life of love for God. St. John says in his letter to the Church: “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1Jn 4,20)
Jesus declares in the gospel of John, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” (Jn 15,1) We are all branches that have been grafted on to the vine of Christ. If we were cut off from the vine and had no source of nourishment we would wither up and die. We cannot have life apart from Christ and others. In the gospel of John, Jesus points the way for us to true life. “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” (Jn 15,4) True, eternal, abundant, authentic life abides in Jesus and flows through him to those who are grafted on the vine. Jesus is the true vine and the Father is the vine grower. (Jn 15,1) As the branches draw life from the vine, so do we draw our life from Jesus. “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” (Jn 15,4) “Without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15,5) Living independently is not going to bring us life. The secret of life is revealed in this simple instruction, “Remain in me.”
St. Paul speaks to us of the mystery of our life in Christ: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;” (Gal 2,19f) Eternal life is not an independent, self-directed, self-seeking life for the selfish “I” no longer lives; the “I” has been crucified and now our entire life is in Christ. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (Jn 15,7) The words of Jesus are a life giving power at work in us. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” (Jn 15,9f) Following the commandment of Jesus to give ourselves to one another in love keeps us in the love of God. “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.” (1Jn 3,24) Life in the Spirit is our life in Christ Jesus. “The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” (Jn 14,10ff) Jesus is the example for us of this mutual “abiding in” that will be the source of divine life and its fruits in us.
“Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15,5) Life in Christ is a fruitful life that bears the fruit of the Spirit in the believer. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5,22) Life is found in a committed, faithful and fruitful relationship with the Father in Jesus, the Son, in the Spirit. We don’t have to go searching for life, if we remain in Christ Jesus, life will come to us and flow through us to others, bearing its fruit in love. Life is truly better together!