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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 5th Sunday of Easter B- 28th April 2024

5th Sunday Easter B 2024

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

28th April 2024

“Our own best Vinedresser”

My friends,

It looks like Garden Centres are thriving and may be especially since Covid. Especially at this time of the year you see trays of potting plants disappearing from supermarket shelves. It’s saying something about how increasingly important our gardens and green spaces have become for us.

Maybe it is that gardens sooth our spirits in ways we don’t fully understand ourselves. Gardens don’t just happen, they require work and attention but in the doing and attending great satisfaction is derived from the order and beauty that is created.

A more recent invitation is extended to gardeners by way of encouragement of ‘wilding’ – whereby we nurture biodiversity in nature by allowing some of it go wild and grow its own course. My friends, these observations on gardening and nature are prompted by the image offered as in the gospel of the vinedresser as a way of understanding the demand and pattern of our Life in God, through the Risen Lord.

The ‘secateur’ – the pruning scissors/shears is an essential tool of the good gardener. Pruning requires prudence, good judgement of the growth nature of the plant or tree being pruned. Most often a ‘light touch’ pruning is best, other times something more severe is required – akin to a “cut back” entirely to let growth begin anew.

In terms of society, family and the individual we have gone through and in many respects continue to go through a “time of wilding” whereby our pursuit of personal freedom has taken on an absolute quality – our sense of my ‘right’ seems to know no boundary and when that happens it leads to a level of turmoil and tension. The emergence of the so called ‘right’ or ‘extreme right’ is a symptom of people’s alarm at a level of powerlessness they begin to feel. You or I may not agree with them but through their disruption and protest they are saying something important about society’s direction and need to be listened to.

On a personal level our reflection and prayer time keep us aware of the Lord Vinedresser who invites us to continually exercise the prudent judgement of the gardener in regard to our own life – whatever stage we are at. Our life is always on a trajectory of growth – our inner self, our soul, heart and mind is ever adjusting to new circumstance from within and without. The idea of pruning is a good image of our ongoing task – like that of the patient watchful care of the gardener who prunes always with care.

Contrast that with the lives of many who have grown wild to the point of addiction and loss of control and direction. The political cry for a severe “Law and Order” regime is a superficial response to a deeper malaise in our midst. Our legacy of faith stressed the Law of God as nurtured in the heart and life of each believer/Christian. Many perceive progress as the increasing secularization of culture whereby all traces of religious faith are denigrated and cast into the “privacy bin”. History teaches us that path to be one of darkness.

“I am the true vine and my Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit, he cuts away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more”

John 15:1

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