Pruning the Vine: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel John 15:1-8 by Father Steven LaBaire

father steven labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower…[every branch that bears fruit] he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” (John 15:1-8)

Fernando Stankuns grape
Fernando Stankuns grape, Flickr Creative Commons

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit a winery in California. Walking through the vineyard, I bit into a grape. The grape was amazingly sweet. I asked the tour guide how these vines bore such sweet grapes. She explained to me that the vineyard workers pruned the vines, binding drooping tendrils and trimming off branches to re-focus their growth. Along with sun, water, and good soil, pruning is essential to getting sweet grapes.

Pruning is not a hostile act to the branch. Rather, it is an act of hope. The vinedresser expects that the vine will produce delicious grapes. But in order to do so the vine must be pruned so it can re-direct its energy.

fui :-) prune trees, Flickr Creative Commons
fui 🙂 prune trees, Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes we need to do some personal “pruning” ourselves: Every activity we engage in involves time and energy. Are we spending our time and energy on things that are helping us to become better people? Or, do we need to say “no” to some things that are not really bringing forth our better selves? Are we being drained of energy that we know could be better used somewhere else in our lives? When you’re 80 will you be able to look back and say, “Yeah, that was time well-spent. I’m so happy that I spent so much of my 40s doing that!”

Sure, there are  life commitments that we must undertake. Some are difficult and draining, but we must live them nonetheless.

But honestly, sometimes (maybe too often!) I find myself saying “yes” to unnecessary things and situations that drain my energy. I unwittingly convince myself that “this is the way it has to be.”

This is where I need to “prune” both my thinking and my schedule. So, I pray for the courage to say “no.” But also, I pray for the wisdom to know where I need to refocus my energy and invest my time. I trust that the Divine Vine-Grower will empower me to do that, if I am open to it.

Let’s pray that our lives may flow out toward others as sweet, vivifying wine. Those pruning shears may be our key to more abundant growth.

Copyright 2015 by Steven Michael LaBaire.

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