Hear the Word of God and Bear Fruit
Fr. Luke A. Veronis
Good news that offers love and joy. Good news that fills us with strength and hope. Good news that overcomes all darkness and even death itself. Good news that ushers in the kingdom and reign of God. Good news that renews our lives.
Jesus went through every city and village preaching and bringing this exact Good News that the kingdom of God is a present reality.
Our Lord went around offering this priceless gift. He would proclaim a word that could encourage, bless, and heal anyone, as well as a word that could cut through into a hardened heart and lead a person to repentance. Jesus preached a word that could ultimately change, transform and transfigure his listeners.
St. Paul put it this way, “The word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)
Yet, why does this word of God touch the hearts of some people, while others remain utterly indifferent and unmoved by this very same word? How can people respond so differently to the same word? Is it because God favors certain people, and rejects others? Yet the Apostle Paul says clearly that “God desires for all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)
So why does the word of God enter into the hearts of some people and change them for the better, while others hear the same word and remain untouched?
Well, we hear in today’s Gospel lesson that transformation in our lives doesn’t simply depend on God and the word He offers. It also depends on how open we are to hear His word, and then on how ready we are to actually live out His word.
Think about that: How do we hear the word of God? And after hearing, what will we do with it?
In the Gospel we heard today, Christ used the example of a farmer and the ground, describing four very different types of “soil” in which the word of God is planted. Some soil is hard and unresponsive. Other soil is rocky with some substantial soil but with little depth. Then there is the thorny and weedy soil that is filled with things that strangle the plants of faith as they try to grow and rise up. And finally, there is the good and rich soil that offers plenty of nutrients for the seeds of faith to take root and become a fruitful plant.
Think about these different types of soil, and then carefully and honestly look into our own hearts and soberly ask ourselves how we receive the word of God and what we do with it?
The Scriptures say that the seeds that fell on good ground are like people who hear the word with “a honest and good heart, who keep the word and who bear fruit with patience.”
Is our heart honest and good, ready to receive what God offers? That means we have to not only be open to receive God’s word, but also be ready to allow His word to take root within us. The word of God has to become a guiding force in our lives.
The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps 119:105) A lamp and a light show us the road on which we should walk. Do we allow God’s word to truly guide us in our lives? When we have difficult, challenging decisions to make, do we turn to God’s word to find direction? When we have situations where the world around us gives their earthly wisdom, do we see the divine and holy wisdom of Jesus Christ, which often is contrary to what the world teaches?
This lamp and light of God’s word will not always guide us down the easiest path. It may be a difficult, scary, and challenging road. Yet, God will direct and protect us all along this untrodden road. This means that the word of God has to become a part of who we are.
The honest and good heart hears the word of God and keeps it. The honest and good heart tries to obey God’s word, no matter how difficult it may be.
Yet today’s Scriptural passage says something more. The good and honest heart will keep the word “and bear fruit with patience.”
Bearing fruit with patience. We can see whether one truly follows the word of God by the fruit we see in their lives. At the end of Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus taught his followers the magnificent Beatitudes – Blessed are the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the merciful, the peacemakers – along with the other famous teachings to love our enemy, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us, to treat others the way we want to be treated, to seek first the kingdom of God above all, and to become perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect, Jesus concludes His powerful sermon with these words: “You will know them by their fruits.”
When people look at us and our lives, what do they see? Do they see the fruit of the Holy Spirit abundant and rich in our lives; the fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control?”
When we hear the word of God and truly keep it, people will look at us and clearly see our connection with God! Our lives will be a reflection of God’s word. Our noble and good heart will bear fruit with patience. That’s why Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. And if necessary, use words.” We preach the Gospel first and foremost through the fruit of love in our lives!
So, let each one of us cultivate good and rich soil in our hearts so that we can accept the seeds of faith that God plants, and watch how these seeds of faith will turn into beautiful plants bearing all the fruits of God and sharing them with the world around us!