thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Our Lady of Fatima
Readings may be found here
Human beings are frequently transactional in their interactions. I am not commenting here on economic systems, but the way in which people will enter into, or make use of relationships to secure some benefit; social, financial, or emotional. It’s no surprise that wealthy, famous, talented, or high raking persons attract friends and followers easily. Consciously or unconsciously, people are drawn to these qualities and the perceived benefits that flow from such connections. It’s also no surprise that the powerless, the poor, the sick, and the strange are so often overlooked, ignored, or forgotten.
Now you may be thinking that some relationships are not really a “transaction” - it is possible for us to unselfishly love so much that we want the good of the other even more than any benefit to ourselves. And you would be right. Jesus Himself models this kind of relating. Today, in John, we hear the Lord use a beautiful image, that of the vine and the branches, to express the truth of His unselfish gift if Himself to and for others. He is drawing His disciples and all of us who hear His voice in this passage into a deeper, life giving way of relating to Him and to one another.
On this day when we remember the miracle at Fatima and the appearances of Our Blessed Mother to three poor children in rural Portugal, I am reminded of how Mary, the first and best disciple of the Lord, leads us in this new relating. Is it not true that in her appearances over the centuries, she invariably offers her consolation and wisdom to those who have been forgotten or ignored? Over and again, the upstanding have rejected the first accounts of such appearances because those who received the gift of her presence seemed so unlikely.
Even in the life of faith, it is possible to fall into a “transactional” kind of relating – God as the ultimate dispenser of benefits. Even in the faith setting, we look “up” too much and “down” too little. I find Pope Francis’s repeated calls for the Church to pay renewed attention to the “periphery,” challenging and compelling. He wants us to live this mystery of the vine and the branches and to see the mysterious presence of God at work in unexpected people, places, and ways.