Having the humility to be corrected … leads to better relationships, opportunities and more joy in life
On Wednesday, Fr Greg and I went to buy some tree seedlings. While explaining the various fruit trees, and the prices, the lady praised the value of the grafted seedlings above the standard seedlings which were cheaper.
This image came to mind from today’s Gospel: I am the vine, you are the branches.
It’s helpful to consider pruning as including the grafting process. As branches are cut away, it’s not the whole person that is thrown away –although that’s possible– just the negative parts.
The incarnation of God as Jesus Christ, and the painful suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, seem obvious to me to be part of a grafting process: the cutting & binding of a grafted tree seedling is what God has done with us and Christ.
I’m open to correction, but it seems to me that we have been grafted onto the root of God. With this in mind, pain and suffering take on a new understanding. If we try to avoid pain and suffering, we will produce very little fruit that will last.
However, when we are grafted onto “the stem of Jesse”, Jesus Christ, our potential is magnified beyond our small human desires and pleasures. Deep meaning and joy in life becomes more possible because we have a new foundation for imagining the future: we are part of something great, but that something also need “me”.
I suggest meaning and joy are “more possible” because, being a grafted tree still requires us to play our part. The roots of a tree provide moisture and minerals to the branches as they sprout buds, flowers, seeds and fruit. If a branch goes to sleep, moisture and minerals will not travel up to the branch and death will follow after too much stagnation.
But, even when we sprout buds and flowers, we do not produce fruit unless we are fertilised by “bees” and “insects”. This symbolises the people we interact with – or fight!
“Fighting” can be helpful at times – as long as it is not physical and/or frequent – because it challenges and strengthens us to be more resilient and, if necessary, to modify our behaviour.
This leads us to the First Reading today, where we see the Apostles and disciples afraid to meet up with St Paul. However, the Holy Spirit guides Barnabas to be a mediator or interlocutor to smooth things over – sorry for the big word.
This situation reminds us of some important realities it’s good to refresh:
- When we mess a relationship, it takes more than “I’m sorry” to restart the relationship. It takes time, and visible evidence of changed behaviour before trust returns.
- When we mess a relationship, we need to be patient and not get angry when rejected. Accepting rejection, peacefully, is a sign of remorse and lasting change.
I take my hat off to all the parents, patiently enduring the growing “pains” of their children, helping God cut off the negative bits and re-grafting them many times onto the root of God.
The many times you are wounded by a child’s behaviour, is a little bit like the Crucifixion. We pray, also, that you experience many Resurrection moments with your children.
Finally, let me share this article by Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI (5-Apr-2021) The Power of Beauty: “The world will be saved by beauty! True, though I would employ the present tense, the world is being saved by beauty.”
The article reminds us that beauty is not just the physical: as he says, his parents often looked more haggard than beautiful as they sacrificed themselves to feed a large family!
However, though we may not express it in words, we know in our hearts there is emotional beauty and moral beauty, especially seen in people who guide others.
I mention beauty here because the vinedresser is simply making each of us more beautiful in our relationships with each other. When we mess a relationship, we deface the beauty God created, and we should work hard to restore it: for movie goers, think of Mr Bean when he goes to America as an art critic and accidently smudges a rare and ancient painting.
I urge each of you to remember that God created you as a beautiful person in a beautiful world. If your world is ugly, let us reveal our inner beauty and restore it, by loving each other.
As St Paul put before us today: “My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth.”
By Gerard Conlan, OMI