REFLECTION FOR TODAY
September 11, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Jesus said to his disciples: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.” Lk. 6:43-44
“By their fruit we shall know them” is a popular saying that can summarize our gospel reference today. In a society where chaos and hypocrisy are becoming the order of the day we are called to reflect and ask ourselves: what kind of fruit am I bearing? Jesus said, “good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.” Yet history has suggested some argument against this saying.
Life has shown us many examples of wolves not only wearing sheep’s clothing but acting like sheep. Life has also revealed many rotten trees bearing what seems good fruit. The devil at times clothes himself in light, not to bear the Lord a fruitful harvest of souls, but for his own devious purposes.
Today’s gospel reference points to the heart of how we can best discern whether we are truly fulfilling the will of God or not. Oftentimes we may struggle with knowing clearly if we are doing what God wants of us. There are many directions in life that we can be pulled toward and many goals we can come up with on our own. For that reason, it is useful from time to time to stop and do an honest inventory of our lives.
When you look at the past year of your life, what do you see? Specifically, do you see good fruit being born? A self-examination like this is helpful to do from time to time. When we examine our lives, it’s important to understand what to look for. For example, there may be moments when all went well in one way or another and then other times that were painful and very difficult.
What is important to know, from a divine perspective, is that just because something “went well” at one point, or just because something was “painful and very difficult” at another point in our lives, doesn’t mean that the former was the most fruitful for the Kingdom of God or the latter the least fruitful. In fact, heavy crosses and difficulties in life can often be the most fruitful times for us, spiritually speaking. Just look at the life of Jesus.
The fruitfulness of our lives is not best discerned by looking at those moments when all was easy, fun, memorable and the like. Though those may also be graced moments, we need to look at spiritual fruitfulness from the divine perspective. We need to look for the moments in our lives, be they easy or difficult, when God was clearly present and when we made choices that gave Him the greatest glory.
Reflect, today, upon your life being like a tree that bears spiritual fruit. What times of your life, decisions you made, or activities that you were engaged in produced the most virtue in your life? When was your prayer life the deepest? When was your charity the strongest? When was your faith and hope the most evident? Return to those moments, savor them, learn from them, and use them as the best building blocks for the glorious future our Lord desires for you.
Lord, Your life bore fruit of infinite value. You continually chose to fulfill the will of the Father in Heaven, and, as a result, You lived every virtue to perfection. Help me to regularly pause in life to examine the direction in which I am going. May I learn from my errors and rejoice in those moments that were most fruitful for Your Kingdom. I love You, Lord. Help me to bear the greatest fruit for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.