5th Wednesday of Easter
Memorial of St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron, OCSO 1911-1938
Acts 9: 31 – 42; Ps 116; John 6: 60 – 69
In his homilies on the Song of Songs, the Abbot, John of Ford, wrote of his personal experience of the Lord Jesus; of this most sacred relationship he declared, “However great He is, He is all mine.” I believe St. Rafael could have easily declared the very same grace as his own.
In his rather brief life of four years as a Trappist in the Monastery of San Isidoro in Spain, confined to the infirmary, separated from the community he loved, he came to this awareness not without struggle and suffering: “There is nothing except God who fills everything, who floods everything. God is my only addiction. First God, always God and only God. God inundates me. I belong to God. God is my goal and the only one to fill me completely. All else, I have no need of it, it is completely unnecessary for me.”
Whether or not he knew the words of John of Ford, he certainly knew the words of the Gospels and had heard as we did in today’s Gospel the invitation, actually the command of Jesus: “Remain in Me as I remain in you.” Notice that Jesus does not say, “Remain with Me” as if we are to be just His companions; rather the command is most intimate and speaks of a communion, an intimate union that goes beyond words, “Remain in Me as I remain in you.”
By our Baptism we objectively dwell, remain in Christ; but only by personally living our Baptismal life do we not only remain but also grow into deeper intimacy in Christ as St. Rafael did. Isn’t that what the Lord Himself desires when He commands us, “Remain in Me as I remain in you.”
St. Rafael, completely drawn into the mystery of Christ, radically embraced by the love of God rightly says, “First God, always God and only God…All else, I have no need of it, it is completely unnecessary for me.” One can hear behind these words the teaching of Jesus, “Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness and all else will be given you besides.”
This command of Jesus, St. Rafael heard clearly and embraced completely; this same command is addressed to us from “The True Vine” of which we are the branches – how good is our hearing and how strong is our desire to take Jesus at His word?