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Bearing Good Fruit

First Reading: 2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan,
“I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD.”
Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.
Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported,
“Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple
and have consigned them to the master workmen
in the temple of the LORD.”
The scribe Shaphan also informed the king
that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book,
and then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the contents of the book of the law,
he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest,
Ahikam, son of Shaphan,
Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan,
and the king’s servant Asaiah:
“Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah,
about the stipulations of this book that has been found,
for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us,
because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book,
nor fulfill our written obligations.”

The king then had all the elders of Judah
and of Jerusalem summoned together before him.
The king went up to the temple of the LORD with all the men of Judah
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great.
He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant
that had been found in the temple of the LORD, read out to them.
Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the LORD
that they would follow him
and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees
with their whole hearts and souls,
thus reviving the terms of the covenant
which were written in this book.
And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119:33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40

R. (33a) Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Incline my heart to your decrees
and not to gain.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Turn away my eyes from seeing what is vain:
by your way give me life.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your justice give me life.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
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.”

NAB

DEV_J22

Today’s Gospel shares a good litmus test for prophets and, I think, friends.

What does a friendship bearing good fruit look like? Well, it should be rich with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22)

Love: Are our friends willing and able to hope all things and endure all things for our sake, and are we willing and able to do the same? (1 Cor 13:7) Do we want the best for each other, and help one another find God’s will in our lives?

Joy: Is our time together fun? Do we both look forward to it and feel refreshed because of it?

Peace: There shouldn’t be anxiety about what our friends might think of us or say about us. There shouldn’t be a pressure to impress but a knowledge that our friends accept us where we are while walking with us as we grow.

Patience: When life happens and plans have to be cancelled, or time together is limited, or one of us is having troubles do we still support one another?

Kindness: Empathy, compassion, encouraging words—all of these things should be present in the relationship.

Generosity: Are we willing to give our time, lend our skills, and give our possessions according to our season of life? Do we take meals and fold laundry for our postpartum friends, clean the house or pull weeds for our sick friends, and buy flowers or a new blouse for our friends who are celebrating a promotion? Do we give as much as we take and are we willing to humbly and gratefully receive?

Gentleness: Do our friends push us to be better? Do they nudge us forward by providing insights and information? And do they do it with gentleness or in a way that humiliates and scorns?

Faithfulness: Can we trust our friends to keep our secrets, to pray for us, to support us, to defend us, and to stand by us? Can our friends trust us to do the same?

Self-Control: Gossip, drunkenness, husband / boyfriend bashing, checking out men—none of this should exist in the friendship.

Some friendships are too full of thorns and thistles to bear such fruit. Seek the kind of women who are filled with the Holy Spirit—”by their fruits you will know them”—and center your relationships around your love of Christ. And before all else, be the kind of woman who bears good fruit yourself.

Reflect on your friendships. Who are the women who bear good fruit in their lives and in your relationship? Pray for them and then send them a note, email, or text message thanking them for their friendship.

photo credit

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and five children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.

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