Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr - "By Their Fruits You Will Know Them."

Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 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."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place myself in your presence. I have set aside this moment for you, so that you can speak to me and I can listen to your words. Speak to my heart! I believe that you are present, with all the graces I need right now, in the current circumstances of my life. I hope in you, Lord, because I know I cannot place my hope in the things of the world. I love you, Lord, and I know how much you love me.

Petition: Lord God, may my life be filled with good fruit. 

1. The Fruits of the Cross
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” In the apse of the ancient Church of St. Clement in Rome there is a mosaic of the Cross in the form of a tree. Hanging from its branches are some fruits that come from the Cross: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. When embraced with love, the Cross becomes the most fertile of trees. Here one finds the sweet and mature harvest of the love of God, which has the power to transform the rotten fruit of egotism into charity, of anguish into joy, anxiety into peace, anger into patience, brutality into kindness, avarice into generosity, violence into gentleness, infidelity into faithfulness, disregard into modesty, willfulness into self-control, and impurity into chastity.

2. Finding Good Fruit
“Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” No matter how hard a thorn bush or thistle tries, it will never grow grapes or figs. Good fruit does not depend on nice intentions, kind words, or generous promises but on the quality of the tree itself. The only tree in the garden where we can expect to find true and lasting fruit is the wood of our cross united with Christ’s—everything else ultimately turns into thistles and thorns.

3. A Fruitful Life
“By their fruits you will know them.” As lush fruit is the sign of a healthy tree, good works are a sign of a noble heart. True faith leads to a genuine compassion for others. This is the polar opposite of the false prophets our Lord warns against in today’s Gospel. They appear as sheep disguised with pleasant words and empty promises, but inside are ravenous wolves that have no real concern other than feeding their own egotism and pride. A true faith, however, is one rich with the fruit that comes from Christ: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead—the corporal works mercy are a sign of a true disciple of Christ. Counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the dead—these are all spiritual fruits from the tree of the Gospel. “By their fruits you will know them.”

Dialogue with Christ: “DISCIPLE: O Lord, open my heart to Your commandments. Give me the grace to understand your will, and with great reverence and consideration remember all your blessings, so that from now on I may be able to thank you for them worthily” (Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 22).

Resolution: Today I will try to fulfill one of the corporal works of mercy.

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