“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (Jn 15: 1-4)

I am reminded today, as many Christians celebrate Good Friday, how our suffering-and-life-creating Lord encouraged us not to be “cut off” from Him, even in the “pruning” process we undergo in our suffering in this life, in one of His final talks with us, before He headed towards His passion. Because He is a “part of” us, as we are a “part of” Him, in both the death and new life He shared with us, as One of us, at His cross and resurrection.

As God “prunes” us in the suffering we might endure on our cross-carrying journeys, when we walk this journey in persistent communion and connection with Christ, we become “even more fruitful,” in the resurrection of New Life within us. This New Life comes to us after we give up, or surrender, all hope in ourselves, perhaps even crying out from our cross, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” – as Christ cried out with us, when He shared our path of pain-and-surrender. It is a relief, our surrender, from the self-reliance and self-isolation we may have clinged to, before we were “pruned” or tested. Relieved of self-reliance, we tend to reach out more, both to God and others, as we realize that we need help, as “no branch can bear fruit by itself.” And in connection with God and others, we join the creative flow of energies that comes from the Oneness of our Creator. So let me not self-isolate today, even if, – or especially if, – I am in pain. Let me recognize my purpose, given to me by my co-suffering and new-life-bringing Lord, to “bear fruit” and to be “even more fruitful,” in productive connection with Him. “Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your kingdom!”

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