Aloha Friday Message – May 1, 2015 – Fruit to Root

1518AFC050115 – Fruit to Root

Read it online here, please.

John 15:1-5 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunesto make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansedby the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

1 John 3:23-2423 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

These passages are excerpts from two of this coming Sunday’s readings, the Fifth Sunday of Easter. As we move toward Pentecost, our stops along the way take us through the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John. Today’s theme comes from this passage from Matthew:

Matthew 7:15-20 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Jesus is teaching about false prophets. There were plenty of those throughout the whole history of Israel. A false prophet is one who gives the appearance of speaking the will of God to others. A true prophet is one who cannot help but glorify God in the message delivered, and whose prophecy is consistently reliable – what s/he says will happen does happen – and in agreement with Scripture. The false prophet speaks from his/her ego and seeks personal gain – money and prestige usually – in place of the honoring of God. We know them by their fruits. If they are prophesying in the name and will of God, then their fruit will be the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If they are prophesying from their sense of self, their fruit will be abominations that are the antithesis of the fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:19-23  19 Now  the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Sound, true prophecy comes only to those who are in and of Christ. Even before his incarnation, the Old Testament spoke of God’s Messiah as the fulfillment of all of God’s promises from Adam and Eve and all through the history of Israel. Although some have tried to find inconsistencies between what the prophets conveyed, in the end, they are moot arguments because the “preponderance of evidence” is that God has spoken to us through scripture in ways that lead us to understand – as well as humans can understand – God’s intentions for his creation. There is enough evidence in the behaviors of those who claim to be prophets that one can see whether or not the fruit they produce has its roots in Holy Scripture and the traditions of teaching from Genesis to Revelation. We are most likely to be caught up by the misdirection of false prophesy if we have little or no idea what connects the root to the fruit. If we don’t know even that much, how can we know for sure if we are still ripening on the vine?

WhiteClimbingRoseSuppose I learned that you love white roses? And what if I know of a place where there is a beautiful climbing white rose draped across a stone wall round a big house? If I want to give you a gift of that white rose, I could snip off a few trailers and give them to you. You’d be able to keep them for a while, but eventually they would end up in the trash because they would die. You could keep them in water for a few days and they would stay fresh, but a day or two more and they would just dry up. They have no roots to bring nourishment. Where do your roots draw nourishment? Are you in the Word every day? We all should be there every day, and not just in passing – you can walk past a rosebush and stop to smell the roses, but that doesn’t become your rose bush – but deeply and richly living in the word of God so that we bear the roses of Grace and fruit of the Spirit. Who will tend to that rosebush to make it flower?

Well, the rosebush – or the grape vine, or the fig tree, or the shaft of wheat, or even the thistle – cannot prune itself. The gardener, the farmer, the husbandman takes care of the crop. The straggling, unproductive branches are removed (and it is rare that they are sent to someone else as a gift). That makes the bush or the vine healthier. We have things in our lives that are unproductive. We know they can be pruned out of us. We are in this way unlike the plants used in these metaphors. We can cut out some of that bad stuff that weakens us, strains our root system, and diminishes the quality and quantity of fruits (or flowers) we bear. A good husbandman, however, does more. Even that which is left after the no-good stuff is taken away is pruned to promote growth.

PruningVines_sPruning the vine helps to remove the deadwood, to promote growth, to shape a plant, to increase the fruitfulness. Taking out the deadwood is not enough. Pruning back increases the quality and quantity of good fruit. But you only prune the branches. You don’t start pruning at the roots because that is the origin of the fruits. In like manner, we must stay connected to the vine if we, the branches, are to bear much good fruit. How do we stay connected? What can we do that helps produce more and better fruit? We can follow Jesus’ commandments to love. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them.

You can make a climbing rose look like a grape vine by tying clusters of grapes to it. You can make a cactus look like it is bearing figs by sticking them to the thorns. Would that really fool anyone? Yet sometimes we try to do that with our lives; we try to make them appear as though we are yielding those spiritual fruits by showing the outward signs of them. Do those signs last? If they don’t start at the root, then of course they don’t last! The same is true of false prophets. They drape themselves with the supposed fruits of their prophecy, but everything they produce smells of decay and ruin. They reek of the fruits of the flesh: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. In this time of upheaval we could also add terror, murder, blasphemy, deceit, persecutions, violence, evil appetites, and may things like these. When people produce this kind of fruit, it is because of where the root is growing. It grows from a bad tree and produces only bad fruit. When that fruit is fed to others, it takes root in them as well – we are what we eat. If, then, Christ is in us, then the fruit we bear will be good fruit if we remain in HIM. Will parts of our lives be like a slightly-fruitful vine that is pruned away to make better growth? Will we remain true to our roots? Will we produce the fruits to feed others? “Dear God, I hope so” is the prayer that helps us defeat the famine that is crushing the world. The prophet Amos described that famine:

Amos 8:11 11 The time is surely coming, says the Lord God,
when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.

Beloved, remain in him as he remains in you. Do not uproot yourself by trying to be a hater, or any of the other “things like these” listed above. Pray – with intense faith – believing that Peace is possible. If you pray the Rosary, pray every day that God will deliver us from this present Evil. Pray for a victory like the one at the Battle of Lepanto. Be the fruit that is true. Go, and bear much fruit. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thrive in the True Vine.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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