THE CHRIST CONNECTION
Xfinity, FIOS, Verizon, Optimum, T-Mobile and AT&T all advertise that they can provide the best cell phone and Wi-Fi connection available.
Each company claims that if we subscribe to their service then our cellular calls will be loud and clear, our Wi-Fi will be uninterrupted, our upload and download speeds will be blazingly fast, movies and music will flawlessly stream to our devices – all our digital equipment will perform perfectly.
Without such a strong and reliable connection, our smartphones, laptops, computers, navigation systems, and digital assistants will not function as designed. They will be relatively useless hardware.
In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 15:1-8), Jesus speaks about the need for a strong connection, and he does so by using an example from the agricultural society of his day.
He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
Then Jesus declares what happens to those who lose their connection with him. He warns, “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.”
Or to put it another way, such people will be like a smartphone cut off from the digital universe. Good for a paperweight but little else.
If we are to blossom as the men and women God wishes us to be, if we are to bear fruit and bring forth a harvest of goodness, we need to be united to the love, strength, and power that flow from a connection with Jesus Christ and with his living Body, the Church.
We see the importance of such a connection in our First Reading (Acts 9:26-31). There we read how Saul arrived in Jerusalem “where he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him not believing he was a disciple.”
It was only after Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them of Saul’s conversion that he was accepted. Both Saul and Barnabas recognized the importance of being connected to the Church, the living Body of Christ.
Sunday’s readings remind us that Christians need a connection to Christ. That connection happens through the Church, where we meet the Lord in Word and Sacrament and in the Christian Community that gathers in his name.
We might say the Church is like an internet service provider, it furnishes us with what we need to have a strong, life-giving connection to Jesus Christ.
Whether we make use of that connection is up to us. If we do, then we are like that connected branch that Jesus describes. Joined to the vine, that branch has life and bears fruit.
If we ignore the connection to Christ that the Church provides, then we are like a branch disconnected from the vine. We spiritually wither and die.
Each time we use a digital device to connect to the Internet, we might use that moment to remember the importance of our being connected to Christ and his Church. The stronger that connection, the more vibrant our spiritual lives!
© 2021 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski
May the Risen Lord continue to bless you
with his presence and peace
throughout this Easter Season!