“Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)
In the parables of the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, more attention is placed on the lost the strayed, the sinner. So what happens to the good guy? What is the lot of the ninety-nine obedient sheep?
Jesus answers in today’s Gospel passage. For choosing to be the good sheep, for making effort to bear fruits, for deciding not to get lost, for not breaking away from the vine, the reward one gets is constant pruning.
What does it mean to be pruned? It is going under the knife. Pruning is something farmers do to encourage growth and achieve their desired outcome in a plant. As Jesus says, “the branch that does bear fruit is pruned, that it may bear more fruit.”
Pruning is shaping. It usually involves cutting off rough edges, taking out dead leaves etc. In other words, when God prunes us, He shapes us, cutting off here and there those things that are preventing us from growing spiritually that we may bear more fruit.
The truth is that pruning is painful. To be pruned is to suffer something; it is having to swallow some bitter pills or being pierced with an injection. Sometimes we end up praying against these seemingly negative circumstances we face not knowing that we are simply being pruned.
It is through these pruning experiences that we get to be better Christians. Do you hope to bear fruits? Then expect constant pruning. Do not have the attitude of one who feels that God is owing him or her. Don’t expect trophies for being a good Christian, you would never know when pride would take you over. God knows this so He prunes us, He makes us cry sometimes just so that we can be better Christians.
In today’s first reading, the issue of circumcision was raised in the Christian community and it brought about a serious debate and argument between Paul and the men of Judea. To resolve the matter, Paul had to resort to authority. He brought the matter to Jerusalem which was the capital of the church at that time.
Can you imagine the commotion this matter would have caused if there were no authority figures in the Church back then? In our day and time, anybody can just wake up and begin his or her own church and be claiming that he or she hears directly from God and respects no authority. This is why there are all kinds of strange doctrines and all kinds of abuses in the name of Christianity today. It is so sad.
Jesus knew what He was doing when he said to Peter, “You are Peter and upon this rock I build my Church.” (Matthew 16:18). One who has no regard for authority is bound to bring about confusion upon confusion. Don’t try to win all theological arguments, you may even lose your temper in the process and allow the devil to work through you all in the name of “who is right or wrong?”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to remain faithful even in times of pruning. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 15:1-6, Psalm 122 and John 15:1-8).