Painful Pruning

May 2, 2021   Fifth Sunday of Easter (Lectionary: 53)

Reading I   Acts 9:26-31
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Responsorial Psalm   22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
R. (26a) I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
R. Alleluia.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts live forever!”
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
R. Alleluia.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
R. Alleluia.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
R. Alleluia.
And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
R. Alleluia.

Reading II   1 Jn 3:18-24
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.

Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

Alleluia   Jn 15:4a, 5b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord.
Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Jn 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

By Claudia Rodriguez 

As I sit here in Adoration, and read these readings, what stands out to me is the image of pruning, the phrase “remain in me as I remain in you,” and God’s voice in my heart saying, “without me you can do nothing.”

I have not always understood the importance of pruning in my life. Many plants could have been saved had I known that they needed to be pruned to grow and be healthy.

Pruning, while it can seem like a cruel action, is actually an act of mercy.

Pruning is necessary for growth as it removes dead and dying branches and stubs so that there can be more room for fruit to spring into life. Pruning is also a way to protect the plant from diseased branches that could, if not taken care of, lead to the branch not bearing any fruit.

Understanding all of this makes this passage come alive in a new way for me. I find that if I had to deem my current season of life as anything, I would deem a season of pruning. Abba is pruning me from the disease in my life that is killing me spiritually, and from bad habits that are also killing me physically. As a tender gardener he is delicately but deliberately taking away all that is dead in me and around me so that I can have the room in my life to bear much more fruit.  The pruning going on in my life is stripping me of pride, a disordered self-love, and mediocrity and it is painful.

But it is so, so good.

Because pruning is taking place I can hear His voice more clearly as He says to me over and over again, “remain in me as I remain in you.” There is a reason for the pruning taking place. And it is to draw me closer to Jesus. Jesus is showing me in His words that He is so close to me - to the point of being in me.

It reminds me of a quote from the book He and I, in which Gabrielle Bossis tells Jesus that He knows she loves Him and He responds, “You must tell me all the same because I love to hear it. Tell me often. When you know that someone loves you it makes you happy when he tells you so.” Jesus is speaking clearly to my heart that He wants me to spend time with Him and tell Him how much I love Him. 

After all, is He not my beloved?  Yes, yes He is.

If that is what I profess, then my whole life should reflect it.

How He is calling me to live out this love and season of pruning is simple: visit Him, pray, read scripture, grow in humility, grow in surrender and child-like confidence, die to myself at all times, and give people the benefit of the doubt. I must grow in charity and mercy.

And it is here as He shows me how to live in this season that I hear, “Without me you can do nothing.” The tears fall as I write this. Because in the worst moments of my life, moments where desperation, hopelessness, and so much insecurity filled my heart, are the moments when I became self-reliant. But here in front of me is the invitation: Remain in me.


Claudia Rodriguez loves her family and friends. She is known for loving to bring people together so they can connect with one another. Having one on one's is one of her favorite ways of spending her time. She loves coffee shops, books, reading her poetry and being a volunteer editor for Chastity Project. It is good to know that if you give her a good cup of blended dirty chai lavender latte she will love you forever. She loves volunteering for her parish and going out with friends after. In the past, she has worked as an English teacher and in ministry and is currently rediscovering her passions and learning to dream again. The Lord is her Shepherd.

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1 comment

  • Beautiful, Claudia! Thank you for sharing God’s work in your soul!


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