Seeking to be Pruned


Pruning a vine is an important part of helping it to grow and produce not only more fruit but the best fruit. If left unpruned, a grape vine will eventually produce less fruit and poorer quality fruit. Good pruning helps to direct the nourishment of the vine to the new buds that are most fruitful.

Jesus’ teaching above uses the imagery of pruning a vine to help us understand that faith must lead to charity. First, Jesus says that He is the “true vine.” He is the only source of the nourishment we need for the new life of grace. He is the only way to Heaven and salvation. Knowing our Lord and being attached to Him firmly is faith. Second, our Lord says that He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit. This indicates that faith without the good fruit of charity is dead and is like a branch on a vine that produces nothing. Third, when Jesus finds a branch that bears good fruit, he doesn’t leave it alone. Instead, He prunes it with loving attention so that “it bears more fruit.”

To apply these teachings to your own life, begin by looking at your faith as if it were a branch firmly attached to a vine. Do you believe all that God has spoken through His holy Word? It is useful to regularly examine your conscience in regard to your faith. Since faith is the first step in the spiritual life, it must remain firmly grounded in the Truth that God has revealed. This means we must regularly study the Word of God as it is revealed through the Scriptures and the catechetical teachings of the Church, and assent to those teachings with all our mind.

Next, after affirming your faith in all that God has spoken through the Scriptures and the Church, try to examine your charity. Do you see concrete acts of love in your life that result from your faith? In other words, we can “love” many things in a purely emotional sort of way. But charity is based on faith, not on how we feel. Charity is the fruit of faith. What acts of charity can you point to in your life? What have you sensed God calling you to do in a selfless and sacrificial way? Have you done it?

Finally, when you discover the ways that charity is alive within you, know that God will focus His pruning there. Pruning can be painful. It will require sacrifice, patience in the face of trial, overcoming selfishness, and doing things you don’t feel like doing. In fact, sometimes God even makes charitable acts seem unpleasant as a way of pruning your motivations and making them more pure, based more on faith than on emotion. But this is good.

Reflect, today, upon this holy imagery from Jesus. It’s a lesson from nature that reveals the supernatural life of grace at work. Don’t be deterred by the pruning God wants to do. Embrace suffering with love, respond to injustice with forgiveness, offer mercy when you don’t feel like it, and seek to serve selflessly those who seem undeserving. Doing so will prune you so that God will be able to build up His Kingdom in glorious ways through you.

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