Last week we had the image of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. His love for us is so unsurpassable that he gladly suffered punishment and death, so we may have life, abundantly in the love of God.
Today we have the image of the gardener, the Good Gardener, who sacrifices what may seem to be beauty of the plant for its future health and growth. What we see as beauty and health the Good Gardener sees as detrimental to the potential beauty of the plant held within. To make this beauty come out he has to cut back the transient beauty of today.
Last week, the landscapers for the Essex County Court Complex pruned back the rose bushes around the big fountain near the courthouse where I work. While it is still too early to see the blooms of roses, the memory of what came forth last year makes one smile. Today though, it would be hard to see that beauty in what the landscapers left of the bushes. Their pruning left stubby, stunted shadows of the buses former selves. But without this seemingly harsh pruning, new growth would not yield new beauty. Growth on the old branches would be wild and unruly. There would be fewer new blooms and the overall effect would fail to live out the potential of what each plant could be. Overall, the garden would be a disappointment.
The same with our lives. What may seem like harsh punishments and disappointments are really God’s pruning to encourage new growth and even greater beauty in the potential of our lives. His punishments may seem severe, but it is His pruning of the dead and dying branches in our lives that, while seemly a momentary good, are only transitory benefits to our will and not the ‘good fruit’ that that leads us to Him and to our true selves, as children of God.
The Song of Mary, the Magnificat, speaks of God’s action in our lives wherein He prunes us to make us better, more beautiful, more bountiful fruit of His love. We too magnify the Lord by accepting His love and allowing His will be done in our lives; making us into branches on the Vine of Jesus Christ that yield ‘Good Fruit’ that feed and nourish all of God’s holy children.
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.