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April 28, 2024: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Gospel: John 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.”


The first two readings are my comfort food: First Saul becomes Paul and the church is “built up…and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.” Good news!

The second reading is that sweetest part of 1 John, all about loving one another “not in word or speech but in deed and truth…just as he commanded us.” Beloved, let us love one another! What delight is there here!

Then we get to the rather-more-thorny Gospel. To bear more fruit, one must be pruned. Does pruning hurt the plant?

We like to think plants have no feelings, but explain green leaf volatiles (GLV) — the scent of new-mown grass. It smells wonderful to us, but is, in actuality, a stress response, a warning cry that the grass has been assaulted. A cry of pain? Maybe.

About two years ago, I experienced a rather shocking “pruning.” It felt as though my heart had been carved out of my chest.

I was physically ill, with one thing and another, most of the following year. My body gave up. My soul was crushed.

I still don’t know what fruits will come of this pruning. Maybe they won’t be visible to anyone but God. But I need to keep believing that they will come.

Instead of nursing personal pain, we all have the ability to turn it into something rich and meaningful through God.


Remember, though we are pruned, so was Jesus. Turn to him with your pain. Instead of responding in anger to someone this week, give your negative feelings to God and ask him how you can turn a bad situation into good fruit.

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Lori Strawn

Lori Strawn

Providence Associate Lori Strawn is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Witchita, Kansas. A 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Lori formerly served on the advisory board for the Providence Associates.

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