Today’s readings can be found here.
(Today Fr. Epicoco reflects on the Gospel passage from the readings for the Optional Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden.)
We certainly do not need the gift of faith to realize how life sometimes makes drastic “cuts” that mark us indelibly. The big question we must ask ourselves, however, is how much weight these “cuts” have in our existence. Today’s Gospel seems to want to answer this very question.
“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.”
Jesus seems to be saying that there is no way to avoid these “cuts”; faith is not a good luck charm that keeps us from the misfortunes of life. The experience of faith is being able to experience a “cut” with a greater purpose: to become more fruitful than we were before.
In fact, sometimes before certain landmark events that happened to us, we lived by appearances, giving importance to futile things. Then, after some strong and very often dramatic experiences, we stopped giving importance to certain useless things and began to live for what matters.
Certainly this is not an automatic mechanism: It’s not enough to suffer from a cut to say that it automatically brings improvement. Sometimes certain things lead us to experience true inner death because we have no real, good reason for which to live.
To encounter Christ is to encounter a foundation big enough to transform a loss into a pruning. But this too is a gift, not a technique. And gifts can be requested and waited for with great humility.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.