In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the vine-grower to speak about our relationship to Him. Several times,He uses the word “prune,” and, of course, that’s not a very pleasant-sounding word.
But let’s look at that another way. A few weeks ago, I read something that made a powerful impact on me. Because of O-L-D, I can’t remember exactly where I read it, but here’s the quote: “All good growth in life comes wrapped in a cross.” If you look at your own life, past or present, I’m sure you’ll see the truth of that.
Jesus calls Himself the true vine (I wonder what an untrue vine is?). He urges us to cling to Him and bear fruit. Those parts of our life which are not bearing fruit will be pruned away so that the vine can be more fruitful in time. Those parts can be things like bad habits, sinful behavior, people or situations that suck the life from you, our attempts to rely on material things for self-worth or a cure to loneliness, refusal to take care of our physical, mental or spiritual health, and so on. As much as we know these things might be bad for us, it’s amazing how we try to hang onto them.
While I don’t like the idea of pruning, while I don’t like the idea that God’s best gifts come wrapped in a cross, I have to keep things in context. You and I must remember Jesus’ entire message of unconditional love and faithfulness, mercy and grace. He is NOT going to do anything that will cause us irrevocable harm. What we go through may hurt, but we will not be harmed.
Jesus’ goal is to help us bear fruit, fruit, and more fruit. And what might this fruit be? In Galatians, Paul tells us: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” If these are present in your life, then you know your pruning is bearing fruit. If not, well.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!