Remain in Relationship

“Jesus said, “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. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. . . . As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” 
—John 15:4–5, 9 

This year’s Daily Meditations theme is “Nothing Stands Alone,” a truth revealed in God as Trinity and throughout all of creation. This week we explore how listening with depth, respect, and even reverence is key to building and maintaining loving relationships. In this homily, Father Richard speaks of Jesus’ desire for us to remain connected: 

I want you to be honest: Would you rather have a friend who is always right or one who is in right relationship with you? I think I know the answer: We’d rather have someone who’s in right relationship with us. In fact, someone who’s right all the time can be pretty obnoxious. Would we rather have a friend who’s always correct or a friend to whom we’re always connected? Of course, we’d rather have the second.  

So why did we in the West seemingly change the rules for God? Many of us grew up thinking God wanted us to be right, to be correct, even to be perfect. What this passage in John’s Gospel is saying is that God wants people who are in right relationship, which means that we are open, and that we can listen to others with understanding and compassion. It means that we can admit when we’re wrong, which is almost every day for most of us. It certainly is for me.   

And yet we keep condemning ourselves and others for not being perfect, for not being right, for not being correct. This parable, really one of the most beautiful in all the gospels, tells us what God desires—simply that we remain connected, a branch on the vine, which is the love of God.  

Everybody seems to be trying to prove that they are right. We have almost a collective incapacity to admit failure, to ever admit that we are wrong, which makes us liars most of the time. Jesus is calling forth a very different kind of human being. 

Jesus says people who live the vulnerable life of connection and relationship will bear much fruit. These are the people we trust, like, and admire. And yet so many of us are afraid to be the very thing that we admire the most. How foolish human beings are! But again, Jesus has told us the way: he is the vine. We are the branches. None of us can be or need to be correct, but we can always
be connected.   

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Being Connected over Being Correct,” homily, April 28, 2018.

Image credit: Claudia Retter, Caroline’s Porch (detail), photograph, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Lynn’s Tomatoes(detail), photograph, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Micah’s Room (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image. 

This week’s images by Claudia Retter appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. This year we invited a few photographers, including Claudia, to share their vision with us in an artistic exploration for the Daily Meditations. The inspiration questions we asked each artist to create from were: How do you as an artist connect to and engage with (S)spirit and/or tradition(s)? How can we translate deeper truths through a lens? and How can we show our inherent connectedness (of humans, nature, other creatures, etc.) through imagery? 

Image inspiration: Our eyes are so often drawn to grand majesties – a vivid sunset or an expansive landscape – but the smallest of things has value, a story of its own, a place in the world. —Claudia Retter

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