“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.” (Matthew 7:17-20)
I can take a sour lemon and add sugar to it and make it a palatable sweet lemonade or I bite into the bitterness and hate, then toss it aside.
I am a Catechist of the Good Shepherd at my parish of St. Clement in Lakewood, Ohio. Recently, one of our trainings has been on a study called “The Wild Goose” from Formed.org. A recent session focused on the Holy Spirit and I found it to be so cognizant of what is going on today in our world. One question that Fr. Dave posed was, what would be the Fruit of the Holy Spirit that others would say that emulate from you?
As I reflected on this it became apparent that I needed to know what the fruits of the Holy Spirit were. The Greek word translated “karpos” means “fruit” and it refers to the natural product of a living thing. Paul used “fruit” to help us understand the product of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The Greek word is singular, showing that “fruit” is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow, all the characteristics of Christ can be manifested in our lives if we embrace Him. We are called to be "Christ-like" in all we do and say.
The Holy Spirit bestows upon us the power we need to reject sinful desires that lead to oppression, cynicism, and bigotry. The Holy Spirit bestows upon us the power we need to reject those sinful desires. As we yield to earthly desires we give the Spirit more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do - to shape us and grow us to be emulate the life of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
At this time in our world the fruits have been filled with negativity more like sour lemons instead of the fruits of joy and peace. I had to pause and reflect on this and asked myself, “Am I being a sour lemon?” for one needs to find the meaning in what is going on today in our world that is beset with discrimination, racism, and cynicism.
We are all children of God, yet our society does not value human life whether it is about abortion, the death penalty, or the denial of fundamental rights of every human being on this earth. In seeing the recent events that have taken place in Minnesota my heart grieves with pain over the death of George Floyd.
How is it that if we are all children of God that something like this has happened? We react to in with anger, shame, and fear or we can let our voices be heard in a loving and Godly manner. But our society has tossed God aside and have let evil permeate the earth in the outward appearance of hedonism and freedom. Freedom to do what I please, where I please and how I please without regard for others.
The news media permeates the air with the horror of watching a police officer kneeling on the neck of a African American man until the point of his death. I watched in disgust as others stood by listening to George Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” and then calling out to his Mother. I envisioned Mary, our Heavenly Mother being next to him as he called out.
I cried out to God for you and my heart was filled with justifiable anger. I have watched peaceful protests that were fruitful, and I have seen riots in my own city that has destroyed business and fires started in police cars on the street. I have seen policeman and protesters kneel together in prayer and I have seen policeman protecting others from harm and individuals protecting policemen.
My heart weighs heavy because I do not believe I have done enough to understand the plight of those who are oppressed, not those taking advantage to loot and promote violence, but those who protest in a peaceful manner.
God calls us to, “love one another as he has love us” and even to even “love your enemies as yourself” As I look at all of this, I ask you, ‘What would Jesus do?” I pray, “ Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.”