“Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” This verse pierces my heart. It leads me to reflect on my life, my past experiences, and my conversion. I was baptized into God’s family as an infant, but I didn’t know the person of Jesus, and I was unfamiliar with His Church. I did not understand the magnitude of the beautiful gift I had been given. I was wasteful and unappreciative. I thought I knew it all. I thought that I could find happiness in the world. I thought I was in control. I was wrong.
God started pruning me a long time ago. Some of that pruning was very painful. I experienced great suffering and loss. I was unhappy, maybe even miserable. I thought that no one in this world could possibly understand what I was going through. I felt profoundly alone, abandoned. Looking back on my past life, I now see all the missed opportunities where God was reaching out to me, but I kept missing the signals. I was ignoring His calls. It wasn’t until I was absolutely broken that I realized that something had to change. I was that branch that had begun to wither. I was trying to live my life without God. I wanted to be in charge, in control, but the more I tried to control, the more I lost control. My life was not fruitful, quite the contrary, I was on a path of darkness and destruction. I had lost all hope, until one day through the grace of God, I found myself with two true friends who prayed with me and introduced me to Christ. I will never forget that day. It was December 15, 2006. The following Sunday I went to Mass, and less than a year later I received my First Communion and Confirmation. Our God is a God of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances… It does not matter that I tried to live without Him. It only matters that now I am trying to live with Him, and I pray that you all will do the same.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Always remember that it is never too late to start heading in the right direction. May God bless you and keep you.
Long Beach Alive
St. Cornelius, Long Beach