Today I decided to cut the h– out of the forsythias. Those past weeks while all the neighbors’ were gloriously blooming, ours gave only few lousy flowers. To remedy this shameful result, I went on line and find out what to do with lazy forsythias: “Prune them to death, they’ll survive and you’ll get flowers next year” I read, and so I did.
Then I found out what this Sunday’s Gospel reading is.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower who cuts off every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, but prunes the fruitful ones to increase their yield. You’ve been pruned already, thanks to the word that I have spoken to you. Live on in me as I do in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, neither can you bear fruit apart from me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who live in me and I in them will bear abundant fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Those who don’t live in me are like withered rejected branches, to be picked up and thrown on the fire and burned. If you live on in me, and my words live on in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father will be glorified if you bear much fruit and thus prove to be my disciples.
Ouch! I just hope and pray that God will not be as energetic pruning me that I was with these poor bushes of ours.
But on a second reading of this Gospel of John, it seems to me that pruning is not really the theme here. Even better, pruning as it may, needs not be painful: “You’ve been pruned already, thanks to the word that I have spoken to you.” What is important is not so much the pruning than the living on in Christ. We cannot bear fruit apart from Christ. OK, but that can be very abstract. Does it mean, as we are often told, to abide by the (Church’s) rules? Or, should I become a mystic,and lead an other worldly life? I am not great with ascetism!
There is a third option, also known as St. Therese de Lisieux'”Little way”: the here and now. Encountering Christ is not a matter of moral. It is not necessarily either a matter of mysticism, rahter, it is the voluntary act of turning toward Christ in the present moment.
The present moment is the only place in space and in time where we, as individual, interact with the world, with each other and with the divine. It is THE place of contact, there is no other. Not in our regrets or remorse, not in our dreams, plans or wishes, but in the here and now do we meet. Every moment is pregant of this possibility. It is up to us. We only need to actively turn toward God.