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Watered, Tilled, and Fertilized by Grace


“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” ~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta

“By their fruits you will know them,” Jesus warns his disciples in today’s Gospel (Matthew 7:15-20), doing so in reference to the false prophets that would inevitably emerge and come to dwell in their midst.

“Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit,” Jesus goes on to explain, wrapping up today’s teaching with these foreboding words: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” Despite this passage and many others like it, there are still many among us, some Catholics, a few even Catholic Priests, who deny the existence and reality of hell. Hmmm...

As many of you know, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and profound reverence for the Lord Today’s Gospel affords us the opportunity to reflect upon the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as taught by Saint Paul in Galatians Chapter 5 (16-24) and elsewhere. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus would seem to imply in today’s Gospel that the Holy Spirit’s presence in one’s life can be determined by way of the brilliancy with which these most cherished qualities radiate from one’s soul.

In a sermon on this Gospel Passage, believed to have been delivered around the year 1887, the man who became known as the Prince of Preachers Charles Spurgeon said “It is of no use for any of you to try to be soul-winners if you are not bearing fruit in your own lives. How can you serve the Lord with your lips if you do not serve Him with your lives? How can you preach His gospel with your tongues, when with hands, feet, and heart you are preaching the devil’s gospel, and setting up an antichrist by your practical unholiness?”

As Christ’s followers, the task of bearing fruit is a lifelong endeavor. Furthermore, as Mother Angelica would often say, “We are called to bear fruit in season and out of season,” which is to say that being fruitful in all that we do out of love for God isn’t predicated on our life circumstances at any given moment in time. We are called to love and serve all, even those we dislike. Even those who have perhaps committed a grave injustice to us. Even when we simply don’t feel like it.

The “watering process” if you will first takes place in the Baptismal font, where we are washed clean of the scourge of original sin. Baptism isn’t a silver bullet however. Throughout life we will wage many battles. At times they will be fierce. Like a tree in need of fertilization, we need to be nourished at the Eucharistic Table as often as possible, certainly at least once a week. The true presence of Jesus coursing through our veins is akin to a tree’s root system firing on all cylinders as a result of proper sustenance, in turn providing the tree with all the vital nutrients needed to grow and flourish in its environment. We must be properly tilled in the sacrament of reconciliation, wherein we not only receive forgiveness for our sins but are also given the strength to be the humble albeit resilient men and women we are called to be. And then there’s Scripture. A Christian can only bear fruit in this world if they live the Gospel message. Naturally a strong familiarity and keen understanding of these teachings must be gained before they can be applied and truly lived.

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To bear fruit as a Christian is to walk with Christ. To allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, and to actively obey God in all He calls us to do. As we seek Him and lay down our own misguided desires for His better ways, we will bear lasting fruit and serve as salt and light in a bland, flavorless and dark world world When we allow God to rain down his grace upon us, we can be sure of a bumper crop.

Do not fear, beasts of the field, For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, For the tree has borne its fruit,The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.” ~ Joel 2:22

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