May 13, 2015
I am sure you remember that just recently, the Sunday Gospel reading was Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches.
Every time this Gospel comes up, I tell myself I should visit a vineyard and get some info from the owner. Then I forget all about it. So, today I decided to investigate this parable, especially this business of “pruning.”
As with many of Jesus’ parables, he noticed something in nature – in this case, the local vineyard – as a perfect image for the relationship that should exist between Jesus and his disciples.
He saw something that fit so well as he learned how the branches depended on the vine. He said, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower (the farmer).” “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
In this reading, Jesus understood something about vineyards. He seemed to know that the vine grower had to “take away every branch that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” He then goes on to say that in the same way this is how God tends our relationship with Jesus. Jesus says, “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”
This business of pruning a vineyard is what I did not fully understand. So, I headed to the computer to find out something about this pruning of vines to make them “bear more fruit.”
The Wikipedia article says this: “that pruning is a horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts plants, both harvesting and increasing the yield or quantity of flowers and fruit.”
So, now the question – the spiritual question – is to consider how God uses this pruning, how we as disciples of Jesus are pruned so that we become healthier followers of the Lord and more fruitful in living our Christian life.
We find our strength by being connected to the vine, that is, Jesus. To give us even more strength of faith, we are pruned by God.
I believe that this is how God steps into our lives, challenging our love for God and for others.
So many opportunities are given us by the Lord so that we could live like followers of Jesus, reaching out to others who need us.
Many may think of these experiences as coincidences. We may say that we just happen to be in the right place at the right time – right there when someone needed me – ready and aware that we must do something. There are no coincidences with our God. Rather this may be God preparing to prune us, to make us a stronger and more alive Christians.
So, this is what I think our pruning is – to make each of us a faith-filled Christian. God gives us unique experiences, opportunities to truly do something good, something great, our own miracles.
God’s pruning may be the bringing of someone special into our lives. This happens – I know it has happened to you – God allowing someone to truly change us, making us a new person, a holier person, a more loving person. Truly, this is a pruning.
I am certain, there are many more examples of this personal “pruning” that God, our vine grower, brings to us. You can probably think of many such examples yourselves. It may be a special book, a time of prayer, even a crisis or a problem or a suffering. It may even be a mistake that we make – and we become stronger and faith filled.