The Fruit of Life According to the Holy Spirit, 29th Saturday (I), October 26, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Saturday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of Mary, Mother and Teacher in the Holy Spirit
October 26, 2013
1 Rom 8:1-11, Ps 24, Lk 13:1-9

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Yesterday in the Gospel Jesus instructed us, like meteorologists, to read the signs of the times and prudently to make peace with God and others along the journey of life. Today he begins with what happens if we ignore that warning. He describes two seemingly random disasters — being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the temple when Pilate’s soldiers murdered protestors against a water system he was trying to establish with Temple money, and being within or around a tower in Siloam when it collapsed — to make the point that unless we are actively reading the signs of the times that Christ’s kingdom has come among us and we need to convert to enter it, unless we are making peace with God and others through asking for mercy and sharing it, we, like the victims of these two events, will tragically perish without preparation. Jesus builds on the theme with the parable of the fruitless fig tree. Fig trees normally take three years to mature and if they’re not bearing fruit by the third year, they’re likely never going to do so. Likewise if we’re not bearing fruit in our Christian lives after quite some time in our life — fruit in acts of loving adoration of God, thanksgiving, prayer, fruit, loving service of others, zeal for holiness — then we’re like a barren fig tree and are wasting all God’s graces just like the fig tree was wasting the soil. The parable, however, has often been called the Parable of the Second Chance. The figure who represents Christ asks for the time to cultivate and fertilize the ground so that it may have another shot. That’s what Christ does for us. But the parable tells us, too, that there will be a time when there will be no time left. There’s a time when after that fertilization, if no fruit is being borne, the tree will be cut down. So there is an urgency. We have no foundation for us to think we have ten, twenty or fifty years to bear fruit. Reading the signs of the times of those who die at our age in life or even younger, now’s the time for us to be focused on bearing fruit in Christ.
  • How do we do this? How do we bear this fruit? St. Paul describes it powerfully in today’s first reading. He says it’s through a “life according to the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit seeks to raise us from the dead so that we might bear fruit together with Christ. “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you,” St. Paul writes. For this to occur, we need to put to death in us life according to the flesh, living according to our instincts and pleasures, giving full reign to the old Adam in us. Life according to the flesh is the life of the barren fig tree. St. Paul describes what the works of the flesh are in his letter to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,  occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” But he also describe the “fruit” of life according to the Spirit. He uses the word fruit instead of works because fruit requires two principles, a male and a female principle, indicating for us that the “works” are all our own doing but the “fruit” is our cooperation with what God is doing within us. “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.” That’s the type of “figs” we should all be bearing together with the help of God within.
  • The one who shows us this fruitfulness of life according to the Holy Spirit is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today we celebrate the Votive Mass of Our Lady, Mother and Teacher in the Spirit. She was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation and never ran away from the Spirit’s shadow. She lived always docilely under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in preparation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, taught all of the apostles and many of the disciples in the Upper Room how to receive and respond to this unbelievable gift of Christ’s cultivating and fertilizing our hearts and souls. Today as we are with her in this Upper Room of the Church, we ask her to mother and teach us as she taught the first Christians so that today, as they did on Pentecost, we may burst through these doors and with tongues of fire live according to the Holy Spirit and produce fruit in acts of love that will endure into eternity!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
ROM 8:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has freed you from the law of sin and death.
For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do,
this God has done:
by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh
are concerned with the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the spirit
with the things of the spirit.
The concern of the flesh is death,
but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.
For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God;
it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it;
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 24:1B-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Gospel
LK 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
He said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”And he 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.’”