In today’s Gospel, we hear Christ himself calling us to ongoing conversion. “Remain in me, as I remain in you,” Our Lord instructs us.
We know that Christ is constant. He will never abandon us or leave us. His love for us is without end and without fail. That is the model He gives us – that is the way we are to remain in Him because that is the way He remains in us.
We, however, existing in our fallen state, are not constant as we should be. We are very changeable – and this isn’t by itself an entirely bad thing. We can change for the better just like we can change for the worse. In fact, we should be working to make sure we are changing for the better, for this is the constant conversion to which Christ calls us. When we remain in Him, we can accomplish great things. However, without Him, we can accomplish nothing. We can only wander from point to point, never even really sure if what we do is good or bad for without the standard by which good is ultimately measured – Christ Himself – the question of good and bad becomes entirely relative and without meaning.
I saw a picture of a billboard that had been placed by an atheist group calling people to “Be Good for Goodness’ Sake.” However, even a passing moment’s reflection tells us that this statement only has meaning if we understand Goodness to be Christ Himself – certainly not what the billboard’s creators had in mind – for unless we measure our own goodness by the ultimate measure of Goodness, the call to be good for its own sake is nothing more than another example of the relativistic nonsense that overwhelms our world today.
Be good for the sake of Christ – remain in Him as He remains in you. This requires ongoing conversion – ongoing pruning, to use the image Christ presents in his parable of the vine and the branches. Let us pray always for the strength to remain in Christ and that His Word will dwell in our hearts and minds, for this is the path to true discipleship… to true glory, for our own glory can only be found in relationship to God’s glory, and Christ tells us clearly that when we become His disciples and bear much fruit, by that God is glorified.