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Bearing Fruit—Building the Kingdom
Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.’”
Opening Prayer: Father, you call me to not only believe but to act. You call me not only to keep the Ten Commandments but to serve. As I enter into this prayer, I offer you my whole self. I believe that you are showing me what it means to live for you day by day. I trust that you will give me the grace I need to live in fidelity to what you ask of me. I offer you my love and ask that you help me deepen that love. God, help me keep my focus on loving you and living your holy will out of that love.
- Whose Fault Is It?: Jesus was firm in his teaching regarding suffering: those who suffered were no different than those speaking with him. He said something similar when he and the disciples passed a man blind from birth, and the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned … it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3). Jesus was rejecting the people’s notion that sin causes suffering. We misunderstand if we think that our crosses are a punishment from God. On the contrary, there is great spiritual power in suffering for God’s glory, even when we don’t suffer “perfectly.” “Suffering is the very best gift he has to give us. He gives it only to his chosen friends” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
- Bear Fruit: Each of us has a personal vocation that only we can fulfill. By using our gifts and talents, we give glory to God. St. John Paul II wrote, “God with his call reaches the heart of each individual, and the Spirit, who abides deep within each disciple, gives himself to each Christian with different charisms and special signs. Each one, therefore, must be helped to embrace the gift entrusted to him as a completely unique person, and to hear the words which the Spirit of God personally addresses to him” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 1992). A good way to discern if we are fulfilling God’s will and bearing fruit is to practice a daily Examen.
- God’s Patience: God provides grace to help us to bear fruit through the sacraments, Scripture, the teachings of the Church, and the examples of the saints. He is patient, “not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), but there will come a reckoning. We will be held accountable for that which we have done or failed to do in our lives. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Now is our opportunity to put our faith into action so that our lives bear the fruit God asks of us.
Conversing with Christ: My Father, you are the source of my life. You created me, and each and every minute I want to live a life that radiates your love and goodness. I want to bear fruit that draws others to you. I want to find joy in the gift of being able to participate in your ongoing action in the world. Father, help me grow in my commitment to building your Kingdom both within myself and in the world around me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will recall at least one instance in which I have felt your call and have responded faithfully, and will consider with gratitude the fruit that resulted.
For Further Reflection: Reflect on God calling you by considering the painting The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1481).
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.
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