This is a beautiful and evocative gospel, this message about Jesus as the vine and we, his branches. This is one of my personal favorites, John 15, since my seminary days of reflecting and reading the Word of God. As in previous times I read this passage, I always marveled at words often repeated.  Maybe this is John’s style to drive home an emphasis, his way of gently asserting his message.
This time, I noticed the word “remain” and the many repetitions included. “Remain in me as I remain in you.” “A branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” “Whoever remains in me, will bear much fruit.”  “The one who does not remain in me will be thrown out and wither like a branch.”  “If you remain in me and my words remain you, ask whatever you want and it will be given to you.” 
Here, in this gospel, can we not say that “remain” seems to be one of Jesus’ favorite words?
But the word is not the main focus of our reading.  It is rather used to support the main portrait given to us:  the vine and the branches.  We must remain in the Lord as the branches remain attached to the main vine.  And for a purpose – a branch can bear fruit only if it receives nourishment from the vine.  Detached from it, it is bound to die.
This is a strong reminder for our Christian life.  Jesus is inviting us to remain in him, to be connected to him.  This is a call for intimacy, much like the picture given in last week’s description of the relationship between the shepherd and his flock.  The vine and the branch are so intimate with each other that severing one from the other is but a loss.
How do we experience this call for intimacy and closeness, this “remaining” with Jesus this Easter time?  We can first of all, spend time with Jesus in prayer or in reflection on his word.  How wonderful to see people drop everything they are doing and commit themselves to a few moments with God.  I always admire people who drop by the church or the adoration chapel for they are connecting with the Vine.
We also remain with the Lord when we devote to him our Sunday worship.  At Mass, you and I make a strong expression of faith, that our week is not complete if it does not begin with the Lord. As individuals, as families, as community, we are here connected to God who makes our lives fruitful.
But we succeed in remaining with Jesus not only through prayer.  We do this also when our decisions and actions are rooted in his presence in our lives.  It is not always easy to do what is pleasing to God but when we are aware of our relationship with him, we cannot act apart from his own desires for us.
This week, can we find time to remain with Jesus and his words?  In our actions, are we fruitful because we act in accordance with our relationship with him?