Gospel Meditation – The cross is the great pruning of Christ’s body.

 April 28, 2024 — 5th Sunday of Easter

My friend and fellow pastor, Father Paul, noticed unsightly, overgrown trees near his parish church. He asked the maintenance crew to cut back the growth, which they happily did, telling him the trees would be much healthier and even fuller after a good pruning. A few days later, Father Paul received a letter from an irate man in the neighborhood who wrote, “Jesus would never prune trees like that. He loves trees, unlike you.” 

I suspect that the neighbor was not familiar with this week’s Gospel in which Jesus says of his Father, “He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit” (John 15:2) I don’t mean to pick too much on that fellow. He was perhaps ignorant of arboriculture. But I’d wager his main confusion was the pruning and removing quality of God’s love. That confusion afflicts us all to some degree, doesn’t it? It is just so darn easy to react negatively when God cuts something out of our lives and assume it’s not his work at all. In the moment, all we see is the loss, and not the loving desire for future flourishing. 

The cross is the great pruning of Christ’s body. Jesus’ rising is the brand-new growth. It is God’s promise to us that all the painful pruning in life is leading us somewhere beautiful. What has been cut back or out in your life? A friend, an opportunity, a sense of certainty, a job, health, a relationship? This week, offer those dry branches to the one who lovingly prunes us in order to make our lives burst with verdant growth.   

— Father John Muir


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