Do I Bear Fruit?

As I read through this week’s readings I noticed a theme which spoke of love, mercy, truth, and peace. All of which is given freely, through the Holy Spirit, to those who follow the Lord and obey his commandments.

In the first reading (Acts 9:26-31), We hear about the transforming power of God’s mercy and grace. The conversion of Saul is so powerful. Here is a man who went about brutally persecuting the Christians, but the moment he encounters Christ, a total transformation takes place. Jesus knocked him off his high horse and softened his hard heart. Saul then, filled with the Holy Spirit, goes about Jerusalem “boldly” proclaiming the good news, and bears much fruit for the Kingdom of God. He was a different man because of the love, mercy, truth, and peace that can only come through Jesus Christ.

The second reading talks about love, faith, and obedience. We are told that we must first of all love God. However, it is not enough to proclaim love for God, we must also love one another. As we all know, this is easier said than done, and it is non-negotiable. But, if we fail (and most of us do), and “our hearts condemn us,” we don’t have to worry because of the love and mercy of Jesus, which “is greater than our hearts.” This is where confession helps us to get back on track. I know for myself, frequent confession helps me to see where and how I could have been more compassionate, helpful and loving towards others.

In the ‘vine and branch’ imagery of this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus explains that we can all have a close personal relationship with him. There is a great responsibility that goes along with this. He says those that nurture their relationship with Jesus by living lives of faith and love will bear much fruit. But, those that do not will be cut away and thrown out. So how do we bear fruit?

First of all, to be a branch that sprouts forth from the vine, we must develop a close personal relationship with Jesus. Not everyone will be knocked off their horse, so to speak, and experience an immediate conversion as Saul did. Although some do, most of us begin through the (sacraments) Eucharist, prayer, confession, and continuing to learn about our rich faith. We must discern what gifts the Lord has given us, and how he wants us to use them.

If we are a true branch of Jesus, in whatever role we play in this world, things look better. Whether we realize it or not, our lives affect the lives of others. Our impact on others is either good or bad. How we act/react towards others tells a lot about who we are and who we serve.

If we are cut off from Jesus the vine, we no longer have our roots firmly planted. When this happens, we feel insecure and become unsure of ourselves. We look to others for praise and security. I know during times in my life, when Jesus was not the center, I felt lost and alone and was thinking only about myself. I was certainly not thinking about how I could bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. There was never a feeling of love, mercy, faith or peace.

Jesus tells us “without me you can do nothing.” I have found this to be true.

“There is only one sadness, it is to not be a saint.”
When the fruit of a saint’s life is missing, all of us are impoverished…”

(Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples)

 

You can find this Sunday's Mass readings here.

 By:  Cheryl Provost

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