In recent years, Bendigo has replanted vines and is now the centre of the Heathcote Bendigo wine region with over fifty different vineyards. It is a return to the glories of the 1870s and 1880s. The mining boom of the late nineteenth century also saw the decimation of the forests surrounding the city. For a time, until the city fathers acted, the city became a dust bowl. Today we are surrounded by luxuriant vines and many, many native and imported trees. The leaves in both sectors are brilliant in their colours, this year, perhaps, a comment upon a wet Spring and a dry Autumn. The leaves are beginning to drop. A slight breeze brings out the blowers and brooms. Some just allow the leaves to rest where they fall. An initial pruning to be followed by the vine dressers and the tree doctors. Today’s parable is more easily understood by those who have eyes to see!
It is easy to say that a good pruning is essential for the vine, we do not easily accept that you and I need a pruning every now and then.
The pandemic is a case in point.
Many resisted and resented the restrictions we all suffered…and it is slight consolation to be told “look at India”. All in some manner or other have been cut off from meaningful relationships and familiar support. Do we expect goodness to be experienced because we have been pruned?
I was reminded at a recent St Vincent de Paul festival that following the excesses of the French Revolution, Paris was swept by a cholera outbreak. At one time, 1,300 people were dying every day. In the midst of that tragedy, someone challenged Frederic Ozanam, “What is your Church doing about this?” And, as they say, the rest is history. The forerunner of Vinnies was established.
We are called to bear fruit. So, we must remain part of the vine. We must expect a friendly pruning every now and then.
His word “abide” is important. It fundamentally means to stay in touch, remain part of me, draw life from the True Vine. And produce the fruits of the Spirit.