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Fruitful Living

First Reading: Romans 8:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has freed you from the law of sin and death.
For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do,
this God has done:
by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh
are concerned with the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the spirit
with the things of the spirit.
The concern of the flesh is death,
but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.
For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God;
it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it;
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24:1B-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

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 24

If you are like me, you’ve watched heartbroken this last month as images of all the suffering in our world have flooded news and social media outlets. The sadness is palpable.

Do I deserve this life I have, of safety, of comfort, of good things, more than those suffering souls do? One look at my list of daily sins ensures me that there is no way that I merit what I have. This comfort of “life and peace” is all gift.

It would be easy to ask “why” of God. But when Jesus walked this earth, He seldom answered the question of why. Instead, in word and deed, He was always pointing us to “what” and “how.” If I had to sum up the “how” and “what” in one word each, it would be “merciful action.”

The Lord desires for us to act on behalf of those who suffer out of the same compassionate love He had for us, when He deferred to consider whether or not we were worthy of His love and offered it freely instead out of His mercy.

Looking at our world today, we have to admit that there are many of us fig trees who have not born the fruit of merciful action the Lord seeks. Or perhaps we have born tiny fruit, reluctantly offered, or fruit full of the worms of self-seeking and pride. Maybe we have refused to let our fruit blossom because we wished that rather than being the fig tree, we could bear some other exotic fruit in some more interesting, noteworthy spot.

God planted us where He did so we could bear the fruit of merciful action right here in our own lives. Your daily work might not look like it is saving anyone, but if you approach it with compassion, seeking the grace it has to offer you, and returning that grace to those you are called to serve, you are bearing the fruit God asks of you. And our world is a better place because of it.

Now is our future. The Master has seen our sin and said, “Let us wait and see what she might do.” What fruit can you produce that tells the world His spirit is in you, “the spirit of life and peace”?

What one task or service might you offer today as a gift of mercy, to fertilize the soil of our hurting world with love?

Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.

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