“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 This was one of Mary of the Cross MacKillop’s favourite scripture passages. As we approach Mother’s Day, I am reminded of the inspiration Mary MacKillop had on my Mother’s life and how this scripture applied to her own life.
My mum was like the gardener who takes care of all the plants in the same way she looked after me and my three sisters. In our childhood it was starting our day with breakfast, sending us off in our uniforms to our respective Catholic schools (ensuring we were educated in the Catholic faith) and then listening to the stories of the day at night. I often reflect when she heard our stories this was when she did the pruning. So, how did this pruning occur?
I think one of my mum’s clever ploys was to allow us to have freedom of speech when it came to talk to her about day without interruption. Her only requirement was that we did not speak negatively about anybody (a Mary of the Cross, MacKillop edict) and our recollections weren’t just idle gossip. As my mother would always remind me, “a still tongue makes a wise head.” Now as I reflect on those words, I realise nothing is to be gained from such diatribes. Thus, I acknowledge that living according to that idiom is a powerful weapon when dealing with challenging situations.
Another aspect of my Mother’s pruning was being an exceptional, faith role model in our lives. Mary of the Cross MacKillop wrote, “We teach more by example than words”. My mum exemplified this through her commitment to prayer, Sunday Mass and paying for our education at Catholic schools helping us understand our own faith and building our relationship with God. Hence, she recognised that God could be a strong influence in our lives, particularly someone we can turn to in times of triumph and adversity while appreciating what we have in our lives.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16 When I think about this scripture, I consider my mum’s character strengths just like Mary of the Cross MacKillops of faith, judgement, wisdom and perseverance. I believe they have shaped my sisters and I in building relationships with God, our own families and friends and hopefully we will continue to inspire others to bear fruit just like my mother and Mary of the Cross MacKillop did.