In our domestic churches, we should always be reflecting on our experiences and considering how we might see God in our families. On this website, I have often reflected on how modern experiences might provide images of God we have not considered before like playing peekaboo, hanging balloons for a party, or driving the family minivan. However, it can also be good to recognize well established images of God from the Scripture when they are experienced in our homes.
Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit" (John 15:1-2). Recently I was pruning a tree in our yard and my daughter came out to help me. I took the opportunity to explain why it is important to prune the tree. I did not prune this tree the first year it was in our yard, and the following spring it did not bloom with new flowers. Now I prune the tree every fall, and it grows beautiful flowers every spring.
I realized that she has probably heard Scripture passages using the image of pruning vines on a plant before, but having never actually observed pruning they may not have made much sense to her. I told her how this is an image of God. She is about to receive her First Reconciliation. I explained that in the sacrament God removes our sins from us to make room for new virtues to grow, just like I am removing the dead flowers to make room for new flowers.
Admittedly, she was just excited to be using grown up pruning shears, so I'm not entirely sure my message was fully received. But I am sure that someday in church she will hear that Scripture proclaimed again, and she will remember when we pruned the tree together. I hope when that day comes the Scripture resonates more deeply with her because she has the concrete experience required to understand it.
This is a beautiful example of the relationship between our parish churches and our domestic churches. The image of pruning described in the Scripture proclaimed in a parish church can be related to the concrete experience of pruning a tree in a domestic church. The experience of pruning in the domestic church can be illuminated by the proclamation of the meaning of that experience in the parish church.