Is your life making a difference? Are people brought closer to God as a result of spending time with you? (And I don’t mean, do they have to run to God for help because you’re causing them problems!) If you’re connected to Jesus, like a branch of the vine in the Gospel reading (John 15:1-8), then the answer is yes, you are making a difference, you are evangelizing the world around you.
Are people attracted to you? Do they want to be near you because of the love you share? When others go through difficulties, do they come to you for prayers, wisdom, compassionate understanding, or some other attribute of Christ? If yes, then you are bearing his fruit on the vine.
We’re all in need of some pruning so that our vines become more deeply grafted into Jesus and we produce better fruits. Sometimes we scrape others with dead branches that are leafless and hard and broken. Being pruned of these ugly, diseased and poisonous twigs is painful, but it’s good that the Father cares enough to trim them away. Pruning enables growth, and thus we become stronger and more beautiful.
In the reading (Acts 15:1-6), we have an example of well-intentioned Christians who scraped others with old branches. As Pharisees, they legalistically clung to old Jewish ways by insisting that Gentile converts subscribe to all Mosaic laws. But in the verses that follow, we see that God was able to prune them because they had grafted themselves into Jesus. They listened to Paul and Barnabas and allowed the Holy Spirit to change their minds.
Jesus wants to bring peace to others through you. To bear his good fruits, let God prune away everything that does not come from Jesus:
Come to Me, My friend
I call you to a deeper surrender of yourself
I call you to come to Me
I call you to come to My freedom
Unloose your heart
Surrender again to Me today
Come to Me, My friend
I will give you all you need
Believe and trust in Me
I know you will not understand
Only know My way is the perfect way
My plan is a perfect plan for your life
Turn yourself to Me again today
I wish to deepen My life in you
I wish to give you My love
My friend, I want to transform you
to make you a new creation,
ever new, ever changing
I want to bring you into a deeper freedom
I want you to believe in My power
to transform you, to heal you
Do not limit what I can do
There is still so much MORE
I want to do with you and through you
I call you to a deeper faith
that I may be still
more powerful in you
(Written by Father Jim Ferry, quoted on his Memorial Card when he died in 1989.)