Fifth Sunday of Easter

The Lord’s cutting and pruning        

“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 everyone 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. Jn 15,1-7

Towards the end of Winter, when the days begin to grow longer and the sun to warm up a little, it is time to prune for the owners of vineyards. The farmer walks the fields with the shears, as it is written in the today’s Gospel; he cuts to the root the branches which he think will bear no fruits, and, by removing the side shoots, he prunes the other ones so that they produce a better and more abundant fruit. When I was a boy, I always wondered how Dante, whose fields bordered our house, could figure out which branches were to be cut and which ones to prune. One day I asked him about it and he replied: “There are no fixed criteria, the farmer does not understand where he has to cut, he can feel it.” “However – he added – when a branch is old, it usually produces only leaves, because the sap will not feed it well; it must be cut then. On the contrary, if it is young, it should be pruned”. One day, seeing he was cutting a young shoot to the root, I shouted out “Dante, but the branch is young”. “I know – he added – but this vine produces quality grapes, then I also cut the good branches, so that the substances can nourish only a few bunches. I want to make some special wine, too”. This is what the Father did with Jesus of Nazareth: “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 everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit”. The same is happening today to those who put themselves to follow the Lord, accepting the proclamation of the gospel. Little by little, as you get into the spirit of the Kingdom of Heaven, you change habits, interests and companies: other projects, other values, other friendships and other dreams take over. Those are the cutting and pruning which are discussed in today’s Gospel and, as Dante did, it happens that, to improve the quality of the new fruit, we should also cut some good shoots. It is, as Paul writes to the Philippians, the consequence of the new life that replaces the old one: “But these things were gain to me, I have considered the loss for the sake of Christ. In fact, I believe that everything is a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him, I gave up all these things and count them rubbish, to gain Christ” (Phil 3,7-8). We too, with time passing by, had to give up old habits and to space out visit to many acquaintances. There remain left our Lord, our family and some good evenings spent in peace friends. I forgot: we keep going to dance in the pine forest club during the Summer in Castiglioncello.

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