The other day, my friend and I took the train to Melbourne to hang around the city. The train was almost full when we left Bendigo and more passengers took on board at different stations. I don’t know what prompted me, but I just said to myself ‘Thank God’ our Christian journey is not like travelling on this train.’ I noticed that though there were many people on the train, people don’t care for each other. There was one young lady sitting across of us just didn’t care. She started painting her fingernails. Then she made her face up with layers of cream and stuff. In one station, another young lady got on board and sat beside a young man. They chatted for a while then went back to what they are doing in their own laptops. There was just no personal relationship and real communication between the many people there. If our Christian journey and life is without personal relationship, our life would have been so boring.
Friends, our Christian journey is not meant to be a lonely one. It is not meant to be a boring one. We are to go together. And not only that we go together but really to go hand in hand, sharing one’s life, sharing our joys and sorrows, enriching one another with our personal and unique skills and abilities. With the gift of our selves to one another, we can make our journey more meaningful and enjoying.
Yet we must not forget that we are in a journey for a purpose. We are in a journey, as Christians, because of Christ. Without him, we are nothing according to our gospel today. When we travel by train, once we arrived at our destination, we go on separate ways to do the things we want to do. However, our Christian journey has a sole destination-God. It might be a difficult journey, but among other things, our readings today offer us hints or tips to make our Christian journey worth a trip.
First and the most important one is in our Gospel today: to remain in Jesus. Jesus is our vine and we are the branches. As branches, we can get only get life and sustenance through the vine, Jesus. Without him, we can do nothing, John told us in our gospel today. Remaining in Jesus does not however promise us a smooth journey, or walking on a red carpet, or lying on a bed of roses. Remaining in Jesus means discipleship. And discipleship means sharing in and learning from the life our master. If he carries the cross, we can expect that we would also have crosses to bear as he said. Jesus himself told us this that God expects us to bear fruit, and we can only bear fruit if we are connected with Christ always.
Second hint is found in our First Reading today: to proclaim Christ in our lives more boldly, courageously and with conviction as St Paul did. Like St Paul we may be under suspicious looks by many as we start doing it, but if we are true to ourselves and to who we are as witnesses for Christ then, despite all odds we would proclaim him to all the world. No matter what the cost. Again we should not forget that we are not sole missionaries of Christ. We are community, a community of witnesses. So even if our work seems to be boring, tiring, disappointing, and discouraging, if we work as a community, as one Church of Christ, then our work would be eased up. We also need to realize that as a community we need ‘Barnabas’ [son of encouragement] in this work just as we are also called to be ‘Barnabas’ for others as we work together.
Third hint is found in our Second Reading today: ‘to love one another.’ This is quite a difficult one because John here would tell us not to just to be contented by saying we love one another, but really to express our love in our actions, in our lives. Yes, it is important to remember that this is an important part of our main vocation- part of our calling to love God and our neighbours as ourselves. Yes it is hard, considering our limited resources and all these different persuasions that the world has to offer for us now. But let us note St Francis, St John Bosco, St Francis Xavier, St Therese of the Child Jesus, Mother Teresa. They are just few of the many people like us, who have concretized in their lives the mandate of our Lord to love. If they can do it. Why can’t we? Again, the problem always is not that we can’t do it, but because we just won’t do it.
As we continue our Celebration of Easter, let’s pray that we may never let go of Jesus in our lives and that we may be the concrete expression of God’s love for our sisters and brothers around us. In this way, our Christian journey would never be a boring one. Amen.