Sinners and Fruits

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!” (Luke 13:1-5)

We all have some idea of how much the people of Haiti have gone through since the terrible earthquake on January 12th.

Do we think, because the Haitians have suffered, that they are greater sinners than all the other people in the northern hemisphere?

By no means!

We all know that quite a few people died in the earthquake in Chile eight days ago.

Do we think that they were more guilty than everyone else who lives in the western hemisphere?

By no means! But I tell you, if we do not repent, we will all perish as they did!

The earth is the Lord’s orchard. He made the world. He planted all the fruit-bearing organisms. He established what kind of fruit each particular creature is to bear. He cultivates, feeds, and sustains the entire orchard. He pours down all the nutrition that is needed so that the fruits of the world might grow.

Naturally, the owner of this orchard is looking for His fruit. The fruit belongs to Him. So we have to ask ourselves: What is the particular fruit which we human beings are supposed to bear? Anybody know?

Good deeds. Good deeds.

The Lord says to rosebushes: “Give me red flowers!” He says to Dobermans: “Bark at intruders!” He says to us: “Do good!”

The divine orchard owner is looking for the fruit of our good and holy actions. He has a right to that fruit. This is His orchard. We are His creatures. We exist to give Him glory.

At every moment, He gives us everything we need to bear our proper fruit, to do good and avoid evil. All we have to do to glorify Him is to co-operate with Him.

Why, then, are we uselessly exhausting His soil? Why are we parked like dry stumps in the middle of the orchard? Where are the sweet figs of love, zeal, truth, and justice? Why can’t the Owner come and pick luscious fruits of chastity, temperance, generosity, and self-sacrifice from our branches?

Why can’t He? Well, the short answer is: Because we are sinners. We don’t bear the fruit we should bear for the Lord because we are sinners.

–‘Oh, no. Excuse me, Father. I am a parishioner. You just called me a sinner, but I am actually a good Catholic parishioner. You’ve got me confused with someone else.’

Or maybe: ‘Wait a minute, Father. You just called me a “sinner.” But I am actually a church lady. I am a very nice church lady who comes to a lot of church meetings. I talk to everybody in the nicest way. I am a church lady, not a sinner.’

What did St. Paul teach us about the Israelites?

Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert…Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. (I Corinthians 10:12)

In ancient times, a lot of the Israelite parishioners wound up getting struck down in the desert. A lot of the Israelite church ladies never set foot in the Promised Land.

Listen, I include myself here, too. I open my Bible many times every day, and more often than not I read something that says, more or less: “My priests are NOT pleasing me, saith the Lord.”

Let’s think about why we are in the Catholic church, dear brothers and sisters.

We are Catholic because we need a Savior. We are Catholic because we know that, without Christ, we would be lost. We are Catholic because we desperately need help. We are in dire need of the divine assistance of the Lord God Almighty. We are Catholic because we are sinners. We are Catholic because we are one small step away from utter oblivion.

God is God. We are not. God is perfect. We are not. God knows everything, so we might as well admit the embarrassing truth of our own pathetic weaknesses. After all, we can’t hide them from Him. The good Lord knows much better than we do what miserable sinners we are.

Here is the amazing thing: He loves us anyway. He loves sinners. For whom did He die? Did He die for all the parishioners of the earth? Did He die for all the church ladies of human history? He died for sinners. S-I-N-N-E-R-S. Sinners!

Did you know that throughout the world there are hundreds of thousands of people who are preparing to be baptized at Easter? Did you know that there are official prayers for these catechumens? Here is one:

God of power, protect the catechumens from vain reliance on self, and defend them from the power of Satan. Free them from the spirit of deceit, so that, admitting the wrong they have done, they may attain purity of heart.

No vain reliance on self. Vain reliance on self opens the door to Satan. Instead, we admit the wrong we have done. God forgives.

The catechumens are getting ready to be baptized into the mercy of Christ. What about the rest of us who were baptized a long time ago? Where do we go to admit the wrong we have done and start fresh?

Where do we go to acknowledge the thorns and thistles we have produced instead of good fruit? Where do we go to confess our sins and receive mercy?

That’s right: We go to a priest. We go to Confession. We sinners—the ones for whom the Lord died—we go to Confession.

One thought on “Sinners and Fruits

  1. Hi Mark- I came across your bolg as I was looking for some Biblical information, God provides! I pray that you are well and thriving in your priestly ministry to the Church, Stay well and God Bless, Blessed Passion-Tide, AMDG- phil florio,sj

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