Connecting Home – Jonjee Sumpaico, SJ

John 15:1-8, Fifth Sunday of Easter

It has been nearly a year since I have been assigned to further studies in San Francisco. And there has not been a day that I am not reminded of home. I remember friends and family. I pray for my country. And even during this moment in time when we can communicate more readily with the technologies and applications that we have; missing home is still part of the human experience of being away.

When moments of homesickness do come in, people usually cope by looking for an object that reminds them of home. What I do during these times is to walk westward until I reach the ocean. I walk toward the water to touch it knowing that it is the closest that I can be to home for the meantime. And when I do this, I feel connected even if I know that I am on the other side of the Pacific.

Our readings for this Sunday talk about the vines and the branches. It talks about connection. It talks about what gives us life. It talks about what brings us close to home. Jesus even invites us to make our home in Him as He makes His home in us. He gives us this blessing freely so that we may also experience life to the full. Just like the branches which can only remain alive if they are part of the vine, we also bear fruit when we find ourselves remaining in God.

How many times do we find ourselves trying to do “our own thing” or “minding our own business,” when we suddenly realize that we are drifting away and losing the freedom that we used to enjoy? How many times have we turned a blind eye on the hurtful actions of people only to realize that we ourselves begin to lose the humanity that we commonly share? To examine our consciences regularly would help us to be connected and be authentically human.

St. John says, “our love is not just words or mere talk, it is something which is real and active!” It is by this that we find ourselves certain of our connection to God. It is by this connection that we can examine our conscience in God’s presence. Do we appreciate our faith, this connection with God, as a non-negotiable value in our lives?

In our day to day experiences, there are a lot of activities which try to deaden our connection by desensitizing the consciences that we have. People will say that they have a right to do harm to others because they are in power. People will say that it is acceptable to silence the voices of the marginalized because they destabilize how things are and destroy the image that these people protect. People will assert that the resources that they control are totally theirs and cannot and will not be shared. But what do you say? Truthfully answering this question will show us where we are connected to.

We are in a period of turbulence.

We are in a world that is becoming more and more polarized. We are in a world in which what is considered good and acceptable is measured by the POWER that one has, the FAME that one enjoys, and the WEALTH that is very much desired. Anywhere in the world at this moment in time, these three measures seem to make the world move.

Being connected during this moment in time spells the difference. Despite the experience of difficulty, our connection makes us thrive and gives us the courage to raise our lighted candles amidst the darkness that envelopes us.

We are in a period of turbulence. And yet we can work for a world that is more inclusive by offering our SERVICE to everyone, by being HUMBLE in our ways, and by SHARING our blessings to those who have less in life. Anywhere in the world at this moment in time, these three measures make us connected, can also make the world move.

The person who is connected to the vine always has hope, even in turbulent times. But that does not come from him. It comes from Someone who is much greater, who reminds everyone who is connected that they belong – that they are home.

In times past, Horacio dela Costa, S.J. reminded us to hold fast to this connection. He wrote: “Now, more than ever, living in times so troubled, facing a future so uncertain, we need faith.”

Keep the faith. Stay connected. Be home.

From “God’s Word Today”, Philippine Star

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