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How is Your Fruit?

First Reading: Ephesians 4:7-16

Brothers and sisters:
Grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Therefore, it says:

He ascended on high and took prisoners captive;
he gave gifts to men.

What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended
into the lower regions of the earth?
The one who descended is also the one who ascended
far above all the heavens,
that he might fill all things.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood
to the extent of the full stature of Christ,
so that we may no longer be infants,
tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching
arising from human trickery,
from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.
Rather, living the truth in love,
we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ,
from whom the whole Body,
joined and held together by every supporting ligament,
with the proper functioning of each part,
brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4AB, 4CD-5

R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

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.’”

NAB

oct-22

If I’m being perfectly honest with you, sisters, the parable of the fig tree in today’s Gospel reading from Saint Luke is one I have at times struggled with understanding. I think the lens I find it most helpful to look through is to recognize myself, my life, as the fig tree. With that perspective I can ask: will the One who gave me life see the fruits of my life when He comes? Am I bearing fruit for the Lord?

We hear in the First Reading that we are called to different vocations and ways of life: “And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers.” God gifted each of us uniquely and intentionally, and we will be judged by how we bear fruit from those gifts. The more we have been given, the more will be expected of us, and the more fruit our fig tree should bear. As we know, the fig tree that bears fruit will be saved. Heaven forbid we end up a fig tree cut down!

How is your life bearing fruit for the Lord, sister? What does that look like for you? I find it helpful to evaluate whether my smaller decisions are going to be fruitful. Too often I say “yes!” to an opportunity or a commitment without stopping to consider whether or not my yes will bear fruit—beautiful, life-giving fruit—for the Lord, and for my family or friends, not just for myself. These little decisions are the branches. They ultimately make up the fig tree of a lifetime.

To see an example of a fruitful life, we need look no further than Saint John Paul II, whose feast we celebrate today. I imagine many of you reading this devotion could share your own personal stories of how this saint has played a role in your life, how his life, his words, his witness have inspired you. The fruits of his life, his fig tree, have fed us and nourished our souls. They have led us to Jesus and His sweetness.

That’s part of the beauty of living a life that bears fruit. We cannot begin to understand the ways our fruits might nourish others. A tiny seed from the fruit of your life might lead someone else to plant a fig tree in their soul. Saint Paul speaks so beautifully in his letter to the Ephesians about our call as Christians: Living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole Body […] brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love. Praise God for this opportunity, sisters. Let’s not miss it.

May our lives be ever more fruitful—to bring glory to God, Creator and Life-giver, and to Jesus, in whom we are one Body.

Elise Howe is a devoted wife, momma, and musician currently living in NYC, though she will always be a midwestern gal at heart. You can find out more about her here.

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