1 Jn 3:18-24
For many years vine growers in Northeast Ohio have produced award winning wines. The soil and climate are ideal for the type of wine produced here, but that would not make a difference if the growers did not care for the vines. No good grapes would grow each year if the branches were not pruned annually following the harvest.
Jesus knew about vine growing. One of his most famous images read in today’s gospel is about the vine and branches. He tells us, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” But he also knew the value of pruning because he said, “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 every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”
The understanding of the important relationship between the vine and the branches, and the intimate connection between them, points to the same sort of relationship between God and us. God is the vine and we are the branches. The branches are nourished from the earth’s nutrients through the vine. We are nourished by our relationship with God.
In order for our relationship with God to flourish, pruning needs to happen. Pruning is a way of cutting away anything that prevents further growth. We need to cut away or eliminate any blocks that prevent our relationship with God from deepening and growing. We may experience some hard times in our lives and these may be a means, a pruning, for us to grow and become closer to our loving God.
The reading from 1 John tells us what the results of our pruning should be.
Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.
With reflection and prayer what do you need to prune to grow closer to God?
What are some of the fruits or good works you produce as a result of your relationship with God?