Thornbushes and Thistles?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

angryBeware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:15-21)

This past Sunday I was attracted to a beautiful plant that just blossomed this past week. It is under the dogwood tree just outside the entry into the Church. The flowers are a beautiful bright yellow and I don’t remember them from years prior. I even pointed them out to some parishioners as we spoke after the Divine Liturgy out front. All the other plants and trees have already blossomed and dropped their petals weeks ago around Pascha time and this plant in particular brought back memories of the Paschal celebration of Christ’s victory over death. The yellow flowers were inviting and beautiful. I am no connoisseur of plants so I cannot tell you the type of plant it is at the moment. I learned long ago that the colorful petals of the plant are to attract bees and such to help in pollinating other plants. People are compared to plants when Jesus speaks about those who are of God and those who are impostors.

Jesus says that no one goes to gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles. We can deduce that Jesus is saying that no one wants to go through the trouble and pain of being punctured by thorns and thistles to gather grapes and figs, but I don’t know of any thorn bush or thistle that grows grapes and figs anyhow. We would be at the wrong plant! If we were looking for grapes and figs we would go to the grapevine and fig tree.

The same applies in our Christian life. We should abide by the fruit of God and the fruit of God only grows on that plant which is planted in God’s garden. If we search anywhere else we partake of a different fruit, or no fruit at all. St. Paul taught that,  “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22) All these virtues above speak of another as their destination. The only other fruit St. Paul talks about is the fruit of the flesh, meaning that which satisfies our own desires.

If we choose to live for our own needs then we a re a plant that is not inviting and beautiful but rather thorny and isolated. A plant that does not have anything of real value to offer. The plant that is inviting and beatiful draws everyone nearby to partake and share in its glory and thereby also brings with it new plants and new life! It is nurtured by God and it shows in its radiance and brilliance. Our life and how we live it is the testimony of God for others to see and we invite others to partake in the fruit of God’s work.

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