Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Over the past few days, the word "remain" had figured prominently in our daily liturgical Gospel texts. As you might suspect, there is an historical reason for this St. John's focus on this word. Remember that this Gospel was written as many as seventy years after the Resurrection. Remember that the persecution of the Christian community at the hands of the Roman Empire had been going on for as much as twenty-five years by the time this Gospel appeared. Remember also that the Christian community had been expelled from the Jewish synagogues and that the first great heresy of the Church had already sprung up by the time this Gospel was written. All of these elements created an atmosphere within the community that was causing people to rethink their faith in Jesus. Some were leaving the community after baptism. Is it any wonder that St. John writes that true love of Jesus and of our brothers and sisters involves a willingness to stay, a loyalty to the group.
Of course, the need to "remain" didn't start after Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus had been abandoned by all of his disciples when he was arrested and brought before the chief priests and elders and Pilate. The Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark focus our attention on this aspect of Jesus' suffering in their passion narratives. They had not remained.
People who suffer with disabilities, especially disabilities that are caused by traumatic injury, know the feeling of being abandoned by friends and family. It is a sad fact that many simply cannot deal with the changes that come about because of such injuries and disabilities. At the same time, people who suffer from mental and/or cognitive disabilities are also often isolated by these disabilities. The community has an obligation to live out Jesus' admonition by reaching out to such people. It is one of the foundational elements of the Gospel as well as a deeply held belief of CUSA.