“He removes every branch that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. ”

John 15:2

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

John 15:1-8

When I was growing up, my father had a single pink rose bush in the garden outside my bedroom window. When it blossomed, the roses were spectacular and we would, from time to time, pick them for my mother. However, unlike all the other bushes, my father gave special attention to pruning this rose. I remember feeling sad when he got stuck in with pruning shears. Sometimes he would take a little off, and other times he gave it a severe pruning. The rose bush, however, always bounced back and beautiful roses would blossom again and again.

In the Gospel, Jesus uses the image of pruning. Some of the imagery he uses might escape city dwellers, but his listeners would have known exactly how important it was to prune vines in order for even more – and better quality! – grapes to grow.

Notice what Jesus says: the vine dresser does two things. First, he prunes and, second, he cuts ways those branches which do not produce fruit.

He uses this as a metaphor for the spiritual life. But, even outside of reflecting on the spiritual life, this is a helpful metaphor for us: what in my life needs pruning (tweaking) so that I can produce fruit – flourish? On the other hand, what in my life do I need to let go of (prune) so that it does not prevent me from growing?

What prevents us from flourishing could be a myriad of different things: it could be a bad attitude, a sinful habit, an unhealthy relationship, an addiction, a pattern of bad behaviour, destructive thoughts or a poor self-image.

Jesus puts a challenge before us: submit to the divine pruning knife that, paradoxically, will not harm us (even though we are afraid of what we will lose!) but will help us flourish as human beings. Sometimes pruning may mean letting go of one good thing for an even better thing.

Take time today to ask yourself: what needs pruning in my life?

What, if I am honest, might need to be cut off so that I can be the person that God is calling me to be, one who flourishes and lives life to the full?

Lord Jesus,

You care for me like no other.

You want me to flourish and live my life to the full.

Help me submit to the divine pruning knife, shape what needs shaping in me and cut off what you know does not help me flourish.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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