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    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
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5th Sunday of Easter


 My neighbor had a lemon tree that supplied enough lemons for the whole block. That tree got cooking by mid-summer and if we didn’t come by to collect our lemons regularly, the owner piled the fruit in a wagon and wheeled it around, knocking on our doors and demanding we take some! A good tree well pruned can bear a lot of fruit. But one year, no one got lemons from that tree. It was the year an ignorant yard worker came too late to do the pruning and clipped off the early blooms of the tree. It was the Summer Without Lemonade for all of us.
Some of us are lazy pruners, and that can do another kind of harm. We don’t remove anything, which leads to big woody branches that produce little fruit of inferior quality. Clearly there’s a balance here: prune enough, don’t cut too much, and above all, be timely about it. When it comes to bearing fruit, there is such a thing as too late to act.

The church, like all of us, has a history with pruning that errs sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another. Consider the first

Christians, who by pruning too close to their comfort zone were fully prepared to sacrifice Paul of Tarsus! Imagine what might have happened if Barnabas hadn’t grabbed the shears and insisted Paul be allowed to remain. Hildegard of Bingen’s abbey was threatened with excommunication, and Sister Mary MacKillop was actually excommunicated. Hildegard is now a Doctor of the church, and MacKillop the first canonized saint of Australia. As Catherine of Siena was dying, she too was under investigation by those who thought her too outspoken. John of the Cross was jailed by his own community, members of whom did not appreciate his reforms of the order. Recall all the holy ones whose superiors thought them too simple-minded for the priesthood: John Vianney, Solanus Casey, Damien de Veuster . . .

In other areas, church history was too reluctant to employ the shears. Consider the era of indulgences, when criminal acts could be absolved with the right donation. The title of cardinal or a bishop’s seat could likewise be had by a person of influence. Today Pope Francis suggests that vestiges of the princely era still cling to higher branches within the church hierarchy and could stand a trim.

Sadly, none of us can prune history’s miseries away from our legacy: the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, witch trials, the handling of the schism with the Orthodox church or the disunity of the Protestant Reformation, the clergy abuse scandals. But we can take responsibility for our own personal deadwood. The word of Christ does the pruning, if we present ourselves fearlessly for the task.


Alice Camille
Copied with permission

05 – May 3, 2015 – 5th Sunday of Easter



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