If there is a gospel that is appropriate for our lives and for my departure from Saint John Neumann it is today's. The theme of the gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter, John 15:1-8, is simply: "remain in my love!"
Those words create a tension with me and hopefully within all of us as we know there are times in our lives we do not remain in God. We get caught up in the daily routines, activities, and beliefs that we have created in our own lives about God, the world and others and we need to come here weekly to remind ourselves that our lives are empty, unfulfilled and that we will live with a lot of frustration if we do not remain in God.
A woman volunteering to serve the needy was asked why she was doing that. Her response was: "I've discovered that my world is not the real world!'
What a great truth she proclaims. We live in what we say is the 'real world' but is everything we are doing in this so-called 'real world' drawing us closer to God, others, our families, our spouses and to humanity. This woman realized what the real world is about - to remain in God and to answer His call wherever and whenever He calls us: REMAIN IN God!
Perhaps what is more essential is to ask is what I'm doing in the so-called 'real world' allowing me to remain in God.
Otherwise what Jesus said in the gospel is true: 'apart from me you can do nothing!' We think we often accomplish a lot in the so-called 'real world' but in the end we only end up confused, angry, running here and there and getting frustrated.
Remain in me Jesus said and if not we will be unhappy. The happiest people I've met are those who understand that and recognize that what they have is from God, a gift. And on the other side, the happiest people I've met are those who have been blest with much - they realize and understand it - and share their blessings with others.
There is no greater message I can leave than what Jesus left us as He departed: 'Remain in Me!' We do this by being faithful to the Eucharist - it is a reminder of the necessity to remain in Jesus and that we do not control our lives. The Eucharist will never be entertaining - it only draws us back to the reality that we do not control our lives and that the so-called 'real world' can never be the foundation of our lives and that only God, the Eucharist will lead us to fulfillment and happiness.
Thank you, everyone, for the privilege of being pastor these last 28 years. Your fidelity to the Eucharist, your faith, love and forgiveness have made me a better person and helped and nourished me to grow in pastoring. God bless you all and remember the words of Jesus always to remain in Him.
Fr. Bob Kraig