Pruning Season

04-28-2024Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our Lord reminds us today of the importance of remaining connected to Him. To help convey this message, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches. Christ says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He calls you and me to remain connected to Him and He likens that relationship to the vine and branches which grow together. As a branch, you will share in Christ’s very life, the life of the vine, if you abide in Him. If you remain connected to Christ, then you will have life to the fullest. As a disciple seeking to become a saint, that connection with Christ makes sense and deserves our attention and our effort.

However, there is one line in today’s Gospel that can be a bit difficult to accept. Our Heavenly Father is the Vine Grower and Jesus tells us that: God the Father “takes away every branch that does not bear fruit,” and everyone that Our Heavenly Father prunes, He prunes so “that it bears more fruit.” As a disciples of Christ, Jesus reminds us that God the Father will prune or clip or lop or trim or snip or reduce or thin or cut or remove from us whatever does not bear fruit. None of those scenarios sound too pleasant to me. Cutting or pruning or severing or amputating or detaching all sound like painful words when applied to human beings.

I suspect that most people do not want to lose anything that belongs to them in seemingly painful ways. Yet, the central teaching of Jesus requires that some sort of pruning is necessary for growth. The reward for the pruning action is that you are then able to grow in ways never before possible. Jesus is reminding each of us that if life is going to continue, if your life is meant to have any meaningful future, then you to need allow God to prune away all that is not good, true, and beautiful.

The reality is that every person needs to face this difficult truth - some things in your life need to go. As difficult as it might be, everyone needs to face the reality that some things need to change and real growth begins by turning to Our Lord – The Vinedresser. In turn, Our Lord will help you prune the areas in your life that are dead and need to be removed from your life. Perhaps you find yourself in an abusive relationship, but you are having a difficult time letting go of things that enable the abuse to continue. Maybe you find yourself addicted to alcohol, or drugs, or pornography, and yet you hold on to the lie that your life is healthy, there is nothing that needs to change. Maybe you are in an unhealthy work environment or circumstance, and yet continue to hold onto the belief that your life is just as it should be. Maybe you are filled with self-pity over someone or something that you have lost and refuse to let go because you feel it is just better to hold on to what you know rather than enter the unknown.

Dead branches in your life not only weigh you down. Dead branches can also crush you and hurt you deeply. That is why, when find yourself not sure about the next step, ask Our Lord to help you let go and let Him remove what is dead from your life. To do anything less would be living a lie. At times, it can feel that letting go will be painful, but the opposite can happen. Cutting off what is dead is not meant to be cruel. Letting go and trusting the Divine Vinedresser is act of our loving God who removes barren branches so that other parts of your life can thrive. Jesus came to bring life and the desire of His Most Sacred Heart is that you experience life in the most fulfilling ways possible. Trust Him. If you want joy, you need to trust Him. If you want life, you need to let Our Lord take what is dead in your life and prune it away so your life can flourish.

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.