Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22:26-28,30-32; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)
Allowing Ourselves to be Pruned by God, To Bear Fruit for his Kingdom
“Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)
How comforting it is to know that we do not walk alone through this life! No matter how isolated or weak we may feel, the truth is that Jesus is with us and will never abandon us. With Jesus as “the vine,” we can be assured that we will receive everything we need to nourish and sustain us. With the Father as the “vine grower,” all the circumstances of our lives—both pleasant and difficult— become his instruments as he prunes us and molds us into his image.
As an example of the effect that abiding in Christ can have, consider the early church as St. Luke describes it in today’s first reading. Where did Saul receive the courage not only to forego his former persecution of the church but to become one of its foremost apostles? His personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed him radically, but there were still layers of pride, prejudice, and fear that God had to strip away so that he could become more and more effective. More than likely, this pruning process was difficult, but Saul embraced it because the treasure of intimacy with Christ was so precious to him.
Think also of the disciples in Jerusalem when Saul attempted to join them. How did they overcome their fear and mistrust of their onetime persecutor? Again, they let the Lord lead them, guide them, and prune them where necessary. Certainly this was not an easy thing to do, but they came to trust that God could bring life from death, and so they were able to take the risk.
God is deeply committed to us, just as he was to those first believers. If we try our best to stay connected with him during our days, he will prune us as well. It won’t always be enjoyable, but it will be fruitful! Our lives will never be the same; they will keep getting better and better and better.
“Heavenly Father, make my heart one with you and your Son, so that I may bear fruit that brings you glory and honor.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- In the first reading we find Saul speaking “boldly in the name of the Lord.” In what ways have you been willing to boldly tell others of Christ, e.g., at work, in your neighborhood, or in everyday encounters with other people? Where does this boldness come from?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, we read: “Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice of the Lord.” In what ways have you been willing to boldly tell members of your family how Jesus satisfied the justice of God by dying on the cross for our sins?
- The second reading encourages us to love “not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” How well do you regard other members of your parish as your brothers and sisters in Christ? In what ways do you show it? Discuss some possible ways you can reach out to others in your parish or your community.
- In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that he will “prune” the vine (us) so that we will bear more fruit. How has the pruning by the Lord allowed your faith and your good works to grow?
- In the article, we hear these words: “With the Father as the ‘vine grower,’ all the circumstances of our lives—both pleasant and difficult— become his instruments as he prunes us and molds us into his image.” In what ways have the “pleasant and difficult” circumstances of your life allowed your heavenly Father to prune you and “mold” you, so that you become more and more like his beloved Son? What steps can you take to increase your openness to this pruning?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Father to prune you so that you can “bear much fruit.” Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.