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BY THEIR FRUITS YOU WILL KNOW THEM

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Tim. 1:15-17 & Lk. 6:43-49

Just reading that “Christ came into the world to save sinners” today should evoke from us heartfelt thanks. For if Christ had not come there would be no entry for us into Heaven. Saint Francis of Assisi, and many of the saints like Paul, regarded themselves as the greatest sinners. If that is true of them what about us? Saint Bernadette, in the last days of her life, kept repeating, “I saw her. I saw her. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us poor, poor sinners now and at the hour of our death.” Daily we could make that very prayer ours to remind ourselves that we are sinners.

“There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit” Jesus says in today's Gospel reading. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. If we are loving, faithful, patient, pure and truthful, we know that our soul is healthy and strong. If we are angry, envious, lustful, deceitful, selfish or lazy, then we know that there is a weak and sickly soul inside. If we want to change we cannot simply try to change the appearances – to put on a smiling face or pretend to be a good person. Sooner or later the mask will fall because it is only hiding something rotten inside. We must change from within, go deep down to the root of our defects, heal our soul in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and work to build a life of virtue from the very foundation.

It is easy to live in an atmosphere of false security. When the sun shines and all is calm, a house built on a poor foundation can look very strong and sturdy. It is hard to believe that it will not withstand the force of wind and floods. We sometimes have a false security in our lives when all is going well. When there are no big temptations, when the trials and difficulties of life are small and easily overcome, we can convince ourselves that we are on firm ground. We can be smug and think that our spiritual life is strong and that we will never fall into serious sin. This surely is a false security.

The true test of the foundation of a house comes when the wind blows and the floodwaters rise. The test of our spiritual lives comes with temptations, difficulties, disappointments and trials. If we have built our spiritual lives on a solid foundation of virtue, self-denial and union with God, it does not matter how hard the storms rage against us. With God’s grace we will stand firm. When the floods come it will be too late to secure the foundation. The strong foundation has to be there right from the start before the challenging circumstances develop.

Lord Jesus, do not let us be lulled into a false sense of security, just because our lives are running smoothly. We want to be ready for the test when the moment comes. Help us to work today to strengthen the foundation of our spiritual life by growing in virtue.

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