Only God’s Pruning

John 15: 1-8
Acts 15: 1-6 / Psa 122

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
(John 15:2)

Your work in my life I want to trust,
Because You know what’s best for us;
Lord, grant me the grace to understand
The prunings of Your loving hand.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15: 1-8)


All of us are like branches that must cling to the Vine if we are to receive sustenance and life. “Remain in me as I remain in you,” He said, otherwise we will not bear fruit, we will be cut away by the Vinedresser and thrown into the fire. But if we remain faithful to His Word, we will receive God’s abundant blessings in our life. Jesus mentions the word “remain” eight times in today’s Gospel. This is significant in the light of so many Catholics today who have left the Catholic Church to worship God in their own “born again” prayer groups. Where will they get spiritual sustenance if they do not have the sacraments, which were instituted by Jesus Christ to be the life-giving sap that the branches derive from the Vine?

Many have left the true Vine (Jesus and His Church) in search of more meaningful forms of worship, or of a church that conforms to their idea of what religion should be. But perhaps it is because of their own inability to bear fruit that they have been “cut off from the Vine”. And how could they bear fruit if they did not remain or abide in Him? Jesus may well be talking to them when He said, “You do not have His Word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the One Whom He has sent.” (John 5:38) He who lacks faith does not have God’s Word living in him.

As we grow in God’s vineyard, in our Church and in our renewal community, we find that we are not spared of troubles and trials that at times come upon us without warning like a gardener’s pruning scissors. Even as we serve our community with total commitment, the storms in life can rattle our peaceful and orderly existence. In one of our breakfast fellowships, we were touched by the testimony of our couple sharers, who wondered why their dedicated service to their community was ‘rewarded’ by their teen-age daughter’s unwanted pregnancy. It was only after a year later when the couple came to realize that they had indeed been rewarded with a beautiful baby girl, who has filled their home with love and laughter.

God is the Gardener of our life. He planted us in this life, and supplies what we need. We did not have to work hard to attain His gift of faith. In fact, at the start, we didn’t have to work at it at all. All that He requires of us is to remain faithful to His Word and to His Church. It is very much like our own children- they are God’s gift to us. We did not acquire them through hard labor. They are products of love and intimate pleasure. But we do need to take good care of them, just as we need to take good care of our faith by prayers and receiving the sacraments regularly.

Father God, we acknowledge You as our Divine Provider, and praise and thank You for all the blessings in our life. You have cut away all our iniquities, and pruned us with trials to make us strong and productive. Let your Holy Spirit continue to empower and guide us to abide in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

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