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Center for Action and Contemplation

Remain in Me

Monday, April 4, 2016

Participation: Week 1

Remain in Me
Monday, April 4, 2016

Remain in me, as I remain in you. 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. I am the vine, you are the branches. —John 15:4-5

The motivation, meaning, and inherent energy of any action come from its ultimate source, which is a person’s foundational and core vantage point. What is his or her real and honest motivation? “Who” is doing the seeing? Is it the “cut-off branch,” the egoic self, trying to do the seeing? Is it a person needing to be right, or is it a person who wants to love? There is a very different kind of seeing from a branch that has remained lovingly and consciously connected to its Source (God, Jesus, our Higher Power). When Jesus spoke of a “cut-off branch,” he meant a person who can only see from its small position of “me” and what meets “my” needs. It seems our society is largely populated by such cut-off branches, while a commitment to the common and real good has become a rarity.

Seeing from a pair of glasses beyond our own is what I call “participative seeing.” This is the new self that can say with Paul, “I live no longer, not ‘I’ but it is Christ now living in me” (Galatians 2:20). In the truest sense, I am that which I am seeking. This primal communion immediately communicates a spaciousness, a joy, and a quiet contentment. It is not anxious, because the essential gap between me and the world has already been overcome. I am at home and do not need to prove myself to anybody, nor do I need to be “right,” nor do you have to agree with me.

In the words of Thomas Merton:

True Christianity is growth in the life of the Spirit, a deepening of the new life, a continuous rebirth, in which the exterior and superficial life of the ego-self is discarded like an old snake skin and the mysterious, invisible self of the Spirit becomes more present and more active. The true Christian rebirth is a renewed transformation, a “Passover” in which [a person] is progressively liberated from selfishness and not only grows in love but in some sense “becomes love.” The perfection of the new birth is reached where there is no more selfishness, there is only love. In the language of the mystics, there is no more ego-self, there is only Christ; self no longer acts, only the Spirit acts in pure love. The perfect illumination is, then, the illumination of Love shining by itself. To become completely transparent and allow Love to shine by itself is the maturity of the “New Man.” [1]

When you live in this state of love, at that level of communion where you let the Life get in and let the Life flow out of you to others, you are experiencing pure transformation. This is what it would mean to be totally in Christ.

Gateway to Silence:
Remain in my love. —John 15:9

[1] Thomas Merton, ed. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, “Rebirth and the New Man in Christianity,” Love and Living (Harcourt Books: 1979), 199.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 65-66;

and Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation (Franciscan Media: 2002), disc 7 (CD).

Image Credit: YHWH by maggieau124
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