“Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”
When I hear today’s vine and branches gospel passage I think of the original gold resin windows from Our Lady of Victories Church in Christchurch. The church architect, Charles Thomas, wound the vine symbolising Christ through the fourteen windows that stand behind the congregation. From the sanctuary during Mass it is as if the vine surrounds the worshippers, binding us together as the branches that form the worshipping community.
In my years as Parish Priest at OLV I would often sit in the church to pray. In my first months in the parish the windows meant nothing to me, but they became familiar and I grew to love the way that the changing outside light at different times of the day from dawn through dusk threw patterned gold and red colour through the inside of the church. It was as if the entire church interior and every person inside was embraced by Jesus the vine.
But too easily we cut ourselves off from the vine. We all do this, at least for moments, and every day. But as Jesus reminds us so powerfully, cut off from him (the vine) we (the branches) can do nothing.
But there is a kind of cutting which is helpful, not a cutting to disconnect but a pruning to shape and reform. If the vine was ignored and never pruned there might still be grapes, but there would be too many clusters and they would not be able to ripen. The pruning ensures good yields of high quality grapes.
A few years ago Pope Benedict reflected on this vine and branches passage in a homily.
“Once again, Jesus says in the parable, and I quote: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser”, and he goes on to explain that the vinedresser reaches for his knife, cuts off the withered branches and prunes the fruit-bearing ones, so that they bring forth more fruit. .. God wants to bestow new life upon us, full of vitality”.
Without healthy discipline directed by a life-giving vision we can never grow to human maturity.
Inevitably life’s ups and downs take their toll. But the person of faith can see that bruises we bear and the wounds we suffer are used by God (note: not caused by God but used by God) to free us from the attachments that prevent us living freely and fully.
So perhaps the pain you are experiencing today is not a cutting that leads to death but a pruning that is preparing you to live more abundantly?
- Cutting can be a painful process, even when we know it is for our own good, enabling us to grow to maturity and “bring forth more fruit”. Take a moment to call to mind a suffering you are experiencing these days. Chances are you did not cause this pain that you are enduring. Now ask Jesus to let you know how he is using this suffering to “prune” you so that you might live more freely and happily.
- Pray to Sleep (a ten minute bedtime audio reflection) at this link.
- Today’s readings at this link.
- Send your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each day I will add the initials of those we pray for to this list. Take a moment, perhaps 15 seconds, to pray in whatever way you choose for those whose initials appear below, and don’t hesitate to send repeat requests for prayer.
Let us pray today (Wednesday) especially for: GJG (RIP), JDG, MD, CGW, SD, TK, JK, RF, GN, OP, GC, TN, MC, KJ, SL, AN,
Mother anniversary of death, Brother with ongoing cancer, that he not be worn down by pain and stress, Awaiting scan results. Daughter struggling with bulimia. Son with bronchitis aggravated by work environment. Granddaughter in need of healing. Health fears. Late stage dementia. Loss of lifetime work. Mystery cough awaiting tests, suffering recent grief. Fearing ageing.
Tuesday: JMT, KJ, MD, PM, MC, DP, KD, AD, BA, RF, MC, PR, JH, GPB,
Monday: AD, NF, PR, GPB, BA, MA (RIP), LM, SB, MO’D, S&SW, DMcA, SS, VM, PM, NM,
Sunday: BB, BR, RM, IW, BL, AM, JM, SM, JH, CSL, BS, AW, MR, SR, JC, LR, JF, AB, AB, MB, CB, LJ, AF, JB, CB, SB, MB (RIP), MR, MH, SR, RS, MTM, OH, MM (RIP), SGS. MC, EH, MAC, NDM, JG, SL, JD,
Friday: AJ, MLJ, SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP, GRJP, JF, IC, RF, JC, LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG, GC, AW, DM, MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)
Thursday: AJ, MLJ, SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP, GRJP, JF, IC, RF, JC, LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG, GC, AW, DM, MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)SS, BK, JKBP, CP, PP, BW, HT (RIP), SL, AW, DM, MM, PM, LH, TN, SF, SC, FM, T&TT, AR, HF, RF, JM, R&B, MC, MD,
Wednesday: BH, SGS, JJHB, SJB, BB, MD, MB, JT, RF, SS, SS, PB, SD, JR, SQ, JL, MCSM, PR, MJ, MD,
Tuesday: SM, PR, MJ, MD,
LECTIO DIVINA FOR WEDNESDAY OF EASTER WEEK V (13 May 2020)
Pictures received of any churches that have been significant in your faith journey will be included as the images on the daily Lectio Divina links. Send to email@example.com.
Today’s church: Computer Aided Drafting CAD files for the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Christchurch) structural engineering update form 1996. There is a lovely simple cross section of the bell tower, and the bell. CAD reveals the bell measures 1170mm deep, and 1400mm diameter. Thanks Syd.
Wednesday Easter Week V (15 minutes)
Wednesday Easter Week V (25 minutes)
A prayer cut out of the Marist Messenger many years ago:
Jesus, I am one worn out tired branch
And I need the newness
Of the vine of you
To start the hope-life
Running through the streams of me again.
Lord, be my vine
And I’ll Be your branch
But free me please
From this withered
cut off feeling
And deliver others
From the pain
I carve into their branches.
Not sure about pruning grapes, but when I prune my roses I need to cut with great care and accuracy aware of how tender the plant is. For the best roses this takes time and attentiveness knowing that the summer blossoming will bring months of wellness and pleasure to others. God must be like that with us, only better. God prunes with immense love.
A lovely image Catherine, thank you.
A timely message for me. Thank you Lord that you use this suffering to bring health and wholeness and good fruit.