Acts 9:26-31
1 Jn 3:18-24
Jn 15:1-8

Sometimes I worry that the way we Christians talk about Lent and Easter is almost as though they are two opposing sides – fasting and then feasting, penitence and then joy. And we often throw off the one in anticipation of the other. I worry that means that we are apt to forget Lent a bit too early on. My own family is an example: having given up meat and chocolate for Lent, which of us doesn’t tear into a package of dark chocolate peanut butter cups following Easter vigil? (The answer, of course, is, “No one.” We all grab a few and munch on them, overdosing on sugar just before we drag ourselves to bed at 2 am….)

Even if we gone the route of adding a practice meant to generate kindness or love in the world (e.g. writing letters to shut ins), rather than giving up something – the added practices often dwindle after Easter.

Yet aren’t the fasting and feasting two sides of the same coin? We could not really enjoy the feast without the fast. Maybe that’s especially the case in a culture where food is ubiquitous and often not very special.

Today’s Gospel about Jesus as the True Vine is a reminder to us in the middle of the Easter season that (usually) our Lenten practices – either giving up or adding in – have led us somewhere, and in faith we believe they led us somewhere God needed us to go. Lent provided an occasion for pruning; Easter provides a time of bearing fruit. Yet we couldn’t have one without the either.

Pruning is difficult work, and it happens outside Lent, too, of course. Whether it’s a self-realization that we’ve spent too much time on our phones, or at work, or we’ve been fired from a job, or come to discover we badly hurt a long-time friend – life prunes us.

Yet that pruning has purpose. Without being pruned, we cannot bear fruit. We cannot try for something different, seek to repair a relationship, recognize the ways our pride or selfishness or other vice hold us back from truly loving others and truly being our human selves.

The Gospel this week is clear, however: in both the pruning and the bearing fruit, God is present. And if we remain in Jesus just as he remains in us, God is present. The striving, the being willing to be pruned is one of the things that enables us to remain.

Then at the end of it all, we bear fruit. Today, let us reflect on the fruit that God is bringing about in us – and reflect on how pruning enabled that fruit.