Monday, April 26, 2021

Pruning and Growing: A Reflection on the 5th Sunday of Easter

Wally and I were invited to share a reflection on our parish blog on the Mass readings for the 5th Sunday of Easter.

After February's Arctic blast, which gifted southeast Texas with more snow and ice than we've seen in decades, spring brings a bittersweet reality. Our native plants just can't seem to recover. Orange, lemon, and lime trees sit starkly pruned. Even bushes with moderate cold tolerance need extra pruning this year. It feels like a death to lose what little green they've attempted after a difficult winter. But now, warming days with healing rains inspire leaves, stems, and blossoms on bare branches throughout our city. 

Something in us likens to this bleak condition: we have fought the good fight and are ready for spring!

In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear how the Father "takes away every branch ...that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes..." (John 15:2). Our Father removes dead branches, but also cuts back living branches. The loss through pruning might seem like a death, unnecessary suffering after an already difficult season. But, as we see in the plants of the tenderest gardeners, pruning brings life.

Where in my life are there branches—maybe even expansive or impressive branches—that produce nothing? What would happen if we allowed God to cut back the unproductive overgrowth? In our lives, as in the garden, we open space for healthy, new growth. Where do I need God's gentle pruning in my life, to cut away dead branches and cut back living branches, so my life "bears more fruit" (John 15:2)?

Father, help us to recognize and release what isn't producing fruit in our lives. As we hold onto Jesus, the true vine, help our branches produce life-giving fruit.

Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. ...I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit." (John 15:1,5).

Photo Credit: Skylar Jean on Unsplash

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