How We Stay (Easter 5)

May 10th, 2009 Posted in writing

In the gospel for the fifth Sunday of the Easter season, Jesus asks his disciples to stay with him and promises that he will stay with them. We might think that “Stay with me” is an easy thing for Jesus to say. After all, he is divine and can love unconditionally, so when he says he will never abandon us, we can depend on that. But we aren’t Jesus.

We are fickle and restless beings who can’t keep our attention on anything for very long, including God. Not only that, we stray from God, wandering off to places where we shouldn’t go and which endanger our spirits.  Clearly, we can’t stay with Jesus in the same way he can stay with us.

But we can understand staying with Jesus if we think of it as more a matter of returning to him again and again, whether we come back amazed at life’s goodness or preoccupied with worry about something or other, whether we come back like a first grader proudly bringing home a drawing made at school or like the prodigal son, full of shame and regret. As long as we keep coming back, I believe that is enough and all that Jesus asks for.

So, though we can’t do it in the same way Jesus does, he is not asking too much of us when he invites us to stay with him. And he promises that our staying with him — that is, our continual turning back to him — will make our lives fruitful for us and for others, too.

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