Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatula
Hear once again Jesus preaching at the end of the Parable of the Sower: “. . .those [seed] sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” Think of yourselves as seeds of God's Word sown into the world. And think of this particular time and place as the rich soil when and where you have been planted. Are you bearing fruit thirty, sixty, one-hundredfold? If so, gives thanks to God for His abundance in your life and pray that both your charity and good works increase! If you are not bearing fruit, why not? Jesus hints at one possibility: “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?” This question challenges us to consider the possibility that despite having been sown on rich soil and despite having been given all the attention and care necessary for growth and abundance, we are not bearing fruit. Jesus hints that the key to becoming fruitful, the key to growing in holiness lies in making your life all about revealing God's living Word for all to see. He says, “For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.” So, if you are not producing good fruit, ask yourself: how do I fail to bring God's love to light? How do I become a living revelation of God's loving-kindness?
Jesus gives us help with diagnosing the problem and solving it. He says, “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” If you are not producing the good fruit that you could be producing, it might be b/c you are not using the same standard to measure both your own life and the lives of others. Think in terms of forgiveness. Do you expect immediate and unconditional forgiveness from God and at the same time nurse grudges against those who have sinned against you? If so, the measure you use to weigh sins committed against you is the same measure God uses to weigh your own sins. The same balancing equation goes for weighing your generosity; how you forgive; and the quality of your daily witness. Dole out meager measures and not only will you receive less than what you give, what little you have will be taken from you. Mete out large measures of kindness, patience, and forgiveness, and receive from God even larger measures in return.
Our lamps shine brightest when we receive from God and give to others; when we receive in gratitude and give generously. This is not as difficult as it might sound. The key piece to remember is humility—the virtue, that is, the good habit of knowing that everything you possess, everyone you love, all your gifts come from God, freely given to you to be freely given away in return. God doesn't love us, forgive us, and bless us because we deserve to be loved, forgiven, and blessed. We are loved, forgiven, and blessed so that we can love; so that we can forgive; so that we can bless. By what measure does the Father love, forgive, and bless us? That is His measure (pointing to the crucifix)! Sacrificial love. And if we will produce abundant good fruit, if we will shine His light into the world, that (pointing again) must be our measure. He died b/c he loves us. We can nothing less than follow him, dying to self and rising again to a new life as living measures of His Good News.
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