“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)
Some men came from Judea and were teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” For these men, circumcision was the only ticket to heaven and as such, if one was not circumcised, no matter how holy he or she may be, there is no chance of salvation. What they failed to realise is that circumcision was just a sign (not the real deal).
Going back to Genesis 17:10-11, we read: “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.” Circumcision was a permanent reminder in their own bodies that they were not to be like those who do not worship God.
The sign circumcision was meant to indicate an agreement between God and the people of Israel but some saw the sign as a ticket to heaven. While ignoring the commandments, they believed that having been circumcised, they would automatically make heaven. There are some Christians today who believe that having been baptised and confirmed, they are sure to make heaven regardless of how they live their lives.
Brothers and sisters, there is no easy ticket to heaven. Being circumcised will not guarantee salvation. If there is anything that assures us of eternal life, it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself,” says Jesus. Nevertheless, faith in the sacrifice of Jesus without corresponding works on our part is useless. St. James would say, faith without works is dead.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus simply tells us what he requires of us. Not external circumcision, but inner connection. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” The mere fact that we have been baptised (born again) does not mean that we now abide in Jesus, we must make efforts to listen to Jesus every day, obey His commandments, and walk as children of the light.
Jesus adds: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:4-7). There are so many advantages of going the extra mile every day to connect with Jesus. Do not let your religion end with just signs and symbols. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that a time is coming that true believers will worship neither on this mountain nor on that, but they would worship in spirit and in truth.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to abide firmly in you always. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 15:1-6, Ps. 122:1-5, John 15:1-8)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu