Readings – John 15:1-8; Acts 8:26-40.
Pruning doesn’t seem like a very pleasant process for whomever is being pruned. It carries connotations of being taken down to size, perhaps of having one’s wings clipped. Christ says in today’s Gospel that abiding in Him, and bearing fruit for the Father, means that at times we’ll have to undergo the process of being cut back. It’s right here in one of the most loved passages of Scripture.
Currently in the Church, it can also be an idea that is pushed to one side, replaced by a forced confidence that “good” vicars and “faithful” parishioners will have “growing” churches that run a whole range of social projects which never go wrong. They not only feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but get them signing up to adult baptism courses as well.
We shove out of the way the idea that we are a vine that sometimes needs pruned, perhaps because it brings into the open a difficult reality: that following Christ is often painful. It is emotionally painful – for trying to love our enemies or forgive those who have wronged us always hurts, and is so difficult that it often ends in the second hurt of failure. Truly following Christ is often financially painful, or painful in the way that it shatters our ego and self-delusion, and it can be physically painful. As we meet here in peace to celebrate the feast, somewhere in the world, someone is being put to death for their faith in Christ. Continue reading