Bearing Abundant Good Fruit

Saturday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest—Memorial

“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Luke 8:8

This short line is, in a sense, a summary of the Parable of the Sower. This parable presents us with four different ways in which the Word of God is received. The seed that is sown is the Word of God. The four different categories of people are compared to seed sown on a path, rocky ground, among thorns and in good soil.

Jesus explains that the seed sown on the path are those “who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts.” The seed sown on rocky ground are those who “receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.” The seed sown among thorns are those who have heard the Word and received it, but over time they are “choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.” Finally, those who are like rich soil are those who heard the Word and “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

As you look at those categories of people, where do you fall? Most likely, for those who pray daily and try to follow our Lord, one of the last two categories is where they fall. Note that for those who are like seed sown in the thorns and those sown in rich soil, fruit is born from the Word of God. In other words, their lives do change and they do make a difference in the world on account of God’s holy Word and presence in their lives. The difference, however, is that those who struggle with “the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life” will fail to produce “mature fruit.” This is a good teaching for faithful Christians to ponder.

When you look at your life, what sort of fruit do you see? The “fruit” of which our Lord speaks can be identified with the fruits of the Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control, and chastity. Thus, if you want to discern whether you are more like one who bears mature fruit vs. immature fruit, look at those holy qualities carefully. How “mature” are each of these fruits of the Spirit alive in your life? They make a wonderful examination of conscience for those looking to go deeper than just the Ten Commandments or Seven Capital Sins. If these good fruits are born from your life in a truly mature way, you should be able to see how they affect others through you. For example, how has your kindness, patience, faith and self-control helped others in their Christian walk?

Reflect, today, upon the fruits of the Spirit. Review them carefully and prayerfully as you examine your own life. Where you see them in abundance, rejoice and give thanks, and work to foster their growth. Where you see them lacking, rejoice also in that insight and consider the reason they are lacking. Are there worldly anxieties, desires for riches or pleasures that hinder their growth? Seek to be that truly rich soil, and our Lord will indeed bring forth much good fruit in you and through you.

My divine Sower, You sow the perfect seeds of Your Word in abundance. Please help me to open my heart to receive that Word so that an abundance of good fruit can be born. Please free me from the anxieties and deceptions of life so that I can hear clearly Your holy Word and nurture that Word in my heart. I rejoice, dear Lord, in all that You have and continue to do in and through me. Jesus, I trust in You.