So when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” what does that mean for us? What does it mean for us as individuals in our faith community, our parish? What does it mean for us as a parish? How are we connected? Where do we belong? How do we grow? What fruit do we bear?
Much of new growth comes about through a process of pruning, of cutting back and making room for the new. What is it that needs pruning in my life? What do I need to cut off or cut back in order to be more connected to God? What in my life is unhealthy or even spiritually toxic that keeps me from being the person that God intends for me to be? It could be whatever keeps me from praying, from celebrating sacraments, from active involvement with my community in the parish. It could be all the things and activities in my life that occupy so much of my time that I neglect my spouse, my family, and even care of myself.
The vine and the branches are all about belonging, about connection, about growth. Sometimes just cutting back the old, tired growth isn’t enough. We need to find “healthy, vibrant” growth and GRAFT it. Where do I find opportunities to spruce up my spiritual life? Could it be a retreat? Joining an SCC? Participating in Adult Faith Formation or a Bible Study? Becoming a sponsor for RCIA?
Growth is about change. At times some of our old practices are no longer useful and we need to update. Some of the people who have served in our church with great love and faithfulness yearn for replacements in their ministries. They are ready to make room for new participants, new leaders, new ways of doing things.
In all of life, we would do well to consider what needs to be pruned, what needs to change. Can we honestly say to God, prune away? What do we need to stop doing in order to make room for the new? What is the fruit we are expecting from the new growth? Do we trust God enough to yield wholeheartedly to what must die in us in order for us to enjoy new life and to bear good fruit?