Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bear Fruit That Will Remain

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Now I will praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time.  But of others there is no memory, for when they ceased, they ceased…  Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten; Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants; Through God’s covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake.  And for all time their progeny will endure, their glory will never be blotted out.  (Sirach 44:1, 9a, 10-13)

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.  Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it.  When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs.  And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”…  Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. (Mark 11:12-13, 20a)

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.  (John 15:16a)

Our Scripture readings today are about the fruits of our lives.  As acknowledged by the author of Sirach, we don’t have to be famous to produce fruits that are handed on from generation to generation.  When I wrote a eulogy for my mother’s funeral several years ago, I said she had never been featured in the newspaper or on the radio or television.  She led a modest, unassuming life, but, all the same, had a profound impact on who I am today.

No matter who we are, the things we do matter.  The words we speak, the truths we impart to family and friends, co-workers and strangers matter.  The kindness and generosity we extend to one another matter.  Whether we speak the word of God or share the word by our actions, we are bearing fruit to others.  We may never know the end result, but the gifts we give shape and change the lives of others, and those people in turn have an effect on people you and I may never meet.

Jesus is angry about the lack of fruit he finds in today’s Gospel reading.  First, he wants something to eat, but the fig tree he passes has no fruit to offer.  Then he goes to the Temple and angrily throws out all those who’ve turned his Father’s house into a den of thieves.  Jesus is upset because his Father sent him to the people of Israel.  He is doing all his Father sent him to do, but many people refuse to see, hear, or believe.  They do not bear the fruits of faith which can be passed on to future generations.

Several years ago, during a Holy Week retreat, we were each asked to draw the river of our life.  All our rivers begin and end in God, but what comes in between is unique to each of us.  We were told to draw all the tributaries that have flowed into our rivers.  It’s amazing when you start putting in all the streams, creeks and smaller rivers representing people who have influenced you and what they have said to you or done in your life, or events that have shaped you, and realize how very many people have fed into the waters of your one life.  And we would probably be surprised at the number of times we turn up as influences flowing into someone else’s river.

Take a few minutes today to ponder the course of the river of your life.  Whose words or actions have spilled over into your waterway, influencing or altering the course of your life?  Stop and give thanks for the fruits they bore that are now part of who you are.

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