5th Sunday of Easter
Surveys and censuses seem to indicate that people with no religious affiliation are now the majority in Britain. About 52%. That ranges from people who are serious atheists to those who just aren’t interested in religion.
I suspect that many of them think that belonging to a religion or believing in God limits your freedom and means you have to obey a series of pointless rules and behave in a certain way.
The scripture readings today say the opposite. To know Jesus brings freedom and security. Jesus’ parable of the vineyard reassures us that through baptism we are rooted firmly. We are not victims of fate or playthings of a careless God we are part of God. Joined to him in a way which gives life and fruit. We are not meant to be alone but ‘at home’ with Jesus.
And if sometimes we might ask ‘am I part of the vine’ or wonder if we live up to the freedom and security God gives me, St John in the second reading says ‘God is greater than our conscience and He knows everything’ this echoes St Peter, on the shore of the lake, when the risen Lord Jesus appeared to them, St Peter crushed by the knowledge that he had betrayed Jesus and abandoned him to the cross. And we can say with St Peter “Lord you know everything you know that I love you”.
And this peaceful confidence in God’s love for us made present in Jesus (like trust a child has in a loving parent) isn’t just talk. Like the people helping Paul in the first reading - we help others. Not for any other reason than that God cares for us so we care for others. God loves us, God loves them so we love them.
It’s interesting to compare the confidence, and gentleness, and support and affirmation and pleasure and freedom I find (and please God you find) in Jesus and his church with the things that seem to demand so much time and attention and worry. Facebook, Twitter, social media, complicated serial relationships, fashion, video gaming, and increasingly internet pornography. Getting to know Jesus doesn’t magically free you from these things but it offers a way out, a path to freedom and happiness.