This Sunday my pastor gave a great homily on the Scripture readings entitled “Where’s the Fruit?” in homage to the classic “Where’s the Beef” commercial. It struck me how Jesus could be militant about being un-militant. We begin with the parable of the Tree that Did Not Bear Fruit:
And [Jesus] told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’”
Ouch! The penalty is steep for not bearing fruit. It seemed like another toned down hellfire and brimstone kind of message, until Father brought up some apropos Scripture in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians Chapter 5:
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
So we, as Christians, should bear this fruit: we should be loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Otherwise, we get cut down. Wow. That’s a stark image. It seems to paint God as harsh and judging, and indeed Jesus was definitely in the “Repent! The judgment of God is at hand” mode. But think on this. I’ve always found God to be in the rules, “the laws,” of our universe, i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 or F = ma or opposite charges attract. So what would be the destiny of a people who are hateful, joyless, war-like, impatient, unkind, miserly, deceitful, violent, and unruly?