The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Master Gardener

Separate me from myself and from all that is not you, in order to unite and incorporate me with you. Empty me of myself and of all things, destroy me utterly, in order to fill me with yourself and to form and establish yourself in me. Cause me henceforth to be a perfect image of yourself; just as you are a most perfect image of your Father. -- St. John Eudes

Anyone who grows roses has an appreciation for pruning.  By its nature, the rose bush gifts the world beautiful blooms which last for a little while, and then they wither.  Those blooms carry with them a sense of anticipation, first budding, then slowly opening to reveal their full color.  The good gardener knows to prune the rose before it wilts.  This isn't just to enjoy a bouquet on one's dinner table or to share with a friend. Rather, the rose bush has energy to produce more blooms and by pruning the gardener signals the rose bush to repeat the effort.  In a matter of moments, the gardener uses her pruning shears to transform the once beautiful rose bush that previously dazzled the passerby with its majestic color and fragrance into an ordinary green, thorny plant.

Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. - (John 15,2)

In gospel for today's Sunday Mass, Christ reveals God as a master gardener.  No matter how many good works one does, those works are like the rose bloom.  They dazzle for a short time and then begin to fade.  And while it is true that some works done may have a lifetime effect, the fact remains that Our Lord asks for still more fruit.  Being a Christian means enjoining oneself to the will of God which is an ever flowing gift of love to his creation.

Works do matter.

One of the great errors that emerged from the Protestant Reformation was the belief by some ecclesiastical communities that works were merely a sign of one's agreement with Christian living, but in the end played little in the salvation economy.  Profess that Christ is one's lord and savior and one is good to go.  Yet the Gospel tends to point out that more is expected.  One does not bear fruit simply by being.  Effort, energy, commitment, and a will must be present.

It's easy to sometimes lose heart in the pruning process, which is often thought of as the way of the cross.  Gaze upon the crucifix and behold the word made flesh that endured the ultimate pruning and in return produced a beauty that we can only begin to fathom.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15,5)

Let all pray for the grace to bear much fruit and welcome the inevitable pruning that leads to greater things.