By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
“I AM the vine, you are the branches.” Christ addressed these words to his disciples who now include us. They spell out how our relationship with Christ is. We are actually nothing without him. We need to be with him if we want to be what he wants us to be and what we ought to be. May it be that we always would feel the need to be united with Christ and always do something about it.
Earlier, he said: “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.” (cfr. Jn 15,1-8)
It’s worthwhile to take note of the cutting of branches that do not bear fruit, and the pruning that God does on the branches that bear fruit. While it is God who does these cutting and pruning, we actually also have a part to play in those acts. We need to do some cutting and pruning in ourselves to do away with useless things and to trigger more fruitfulness in our things that are already bearing fruit.
And we need to realize that these cutting and pruning should be a regular thing to do, since it is undeniable that there are things in us that would simply cease to bear fruit and therefore should be cut away, and things that can still be more fruitful if we would just prune them to remove the outdated and ineffective style and practices and give way to new and updated styles and practices attuned to the current circumstances.
Of course, we just have to make sure that we don’t cut what we are supposed to prune only, and vice-versa. Thus, it is important that we be discerning in distinguishing between what is essential and non-essential in our spiritual life, between what is of absolute and permanent value and what simply has a relative and passing value.
This can mean that there are certain old things that we have been keeping and practicing for years that we now may have to discard since they have become irrelevant and ineffective, and other old things that we still need to keep since they are always necessary, irrespective of the changing circumstances.
To be discerning in this matter would certainly require a lot of prudence that in turn requires study, consultation, experimentation, etc. We really need to be patient in going through this process, but that, to be sure, would be all worthwhile. Let’s hope that we do not get daunted by the effort it requires.
Especially these days, when there are so many and rapid developments, we really need to go through this business of cutting and pruning if only to make us adapted to the changing environments. Otherwise we would be left behind, failing to evolve with the world in general. Of course, we have to understand evolution here as a homogeneous one, not a heterogeneous one where we cease to be human and Christian.
While it is true that according to the Book of Ecclesiastes, nothing is new under the sun since God in the end is in control of everything (cfr. 1,9), things in life go through endless variations that would always give us the sensation that we are always confronted with new things.
We cannot deny that in our digital world today, there are many moral and ethical issues that need to be resolved yet, and we just cannot blindly apply the laws, standards and criteria of yesteryears to what are taking place these days. At the very least, they need to be fine-tuned, or to be more nuanced to capture what the Holy Spirit is telling us about what to do with these issues brought about by the new developments.
The cutting and the pruning should be under the guidance of God and carried out as a common effort of everyone, according to each one’s expertise.