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Remain in Him

First Reading: Acts 15:7-21

After much debate had taken place,
Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,
“My brothers, you are well aware that from early days
God made his choice among you that through my mouth
the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders
God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

After they had fallen silent, James responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself
with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols,
unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town,
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 10

R. (3) Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Gospel: John 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

NAB

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We are pruning this time of year. I should have done all this cutting last fall, but I didn’t. Now, I must. And I am reminded of how God prunes. I have been blessed with a gracious God who cares so much for me that He makes clear what I must do lest I wither and die. He has shown me obstacles in my life that were keeping me from spending time in Him, from remaining in Him. He shows me that there is a difference between talking about religion and being drawn into the very being of Jesus Himself.

After the pruning, He waters me with grace. I rest in Him, stop trying to struggle under my own strength and let His love be sufficient. It’s a time to surrender to the love of God. A woman cannot have a love affair with a stranger, with someone she knows only through the teaching of other people.

In order to be in love with God, she has to remain in Him. But how? How to know Him so well that she rests in Him, abides in Him? How to be always with God?

To be ignorant of scripture is to be ignorant of God.~Saint Jerome

“The Gospel,” they explained, “is to be understood not as a book or a doctrine, but rather as a person: Jesus Christ, the definitive Word of God, who made himself a man.” ~drafters of the preparatory document of the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization

To know God as a person—to have a relationship—she must know Scripture. And not just a little, not just on Sundays. But really, really know it, so well that she rests in it, that it is the background music to her life, every minute of her life. Know it so well that it abides in her and she in it.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you. (John 15:7) I want to breathe the Word of God to the point where I don’t know where I stop and He begins. Have you ever met someone like that?  It’s an amazing thing to behold. She walks in grace. She blesses with her smile, with her gestures, with her words. She lives the life for which she is created because she is the genuine image of God He intended her to be.

I want that. And my joy will be complete.

I want to breathe the Word of God to the point where I don’t know where I stop and He begins.

Pick up the Good Book. Soak yourself in it. Find favorite passages. Share with your sisters.

photo credit

Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here

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