Saturday, October 01, 2005

Is your fruit sweet or sour? (Sunday Homily)

We heard two stories about a vineyard.

In the first story, God looks for good fruit,
but finds only wild—that is, sour—grapes.

In the Gospel, it gets worse:
the stingy, fearful tenants give no fruit at all!

That’s often how it works:
if our fruit is sour,

soon we have no fruit at all.

Remember what Our Lord also taught us:
he is the Vine—you and I are branches.
He shares his Divine Life with us—

the life of the Spirit.

The more that Life, that “sap,”

is running through us,
the more alive we are!

We’ll be fruitful—sweet, abundant fruit!

There are many lessons here.

One: consider the Vineyard.
This parish, this community,
this is the part of the vineyard
where God chose to plant us.

When the branches are well-rooted,
they find life right where they are.

But sometimes we look around:
gee, could be nicer over there!

So we bop around, vineyard to vineyard:
try this one this week; try another next.

Sometimes we say, “I’m fine on my own.”
We wonder why Sunday Mass

matters so much.

This is where God planted us.
The more connected—rooted—we are,
the more fruitful we will be.

Sometimes, we think,
“well, I don’t get anything from Mass,

or the parish.”
That’s not the point:
what we "get" from the Vine

is the life of Christ, and it flows, abundantly;
there is absolutely no lack
of His Life here!

But this image of the Vine

is about what we produce,
what we share with others,
which comes from drawing in,
drawing deep, that sap,
that life of the Vine.

I understand we’re all at different places in life.
But I will challenge anyone who says,
“I don’t get anything out of Mass.”
You know what I say to that?
It’s what we put around the vines!

When I was a kid,

I’d go to the fridge, and complain,
“there’s nothing to eat!”
Sure there was: if I was hungry.

Sometimes we come to Mass,

and we make it someone else’s job
if Mass “touches” me.

I think that way as a priest!
If something isn’t “just right” at Mass,
I’ll make that an excuse for why
it wasn’t all I wanted it to be…for me.
I’ll say it again: “fertilizer!”

So, maybe we say,

“It was the choir…the cantor…
the reader…the sound system…the priest…
too hot…too cold…someone distracted me…”

Nah, baby nah! Those are excuses.
Yes, we can all do a better job.
But if you came in,

speaking nothing but Chinese,
He’s here!

So if father is making sense: wonderful!
If not—tune me out: and tune into Jesus!
The True Vine is here—tap in!
With the right attitude,

things will happen for us.

Now this image of the Vine,

the branches, the fruit,
is about a lot more than Mass.
Sunday Eucharist makes concrete for us
the reality we’re called to live

the rest of the time.
It’s our “check-in”;

it’s when we’re fed by the Lord,
Given another burst of that Sap,

the Life of the Spirit.

But then, we live it,

sharing our fruit—

which is solely what the fruit is for:
Not for us, but others:
In our families, at school,

in the community,
changing lives, especially the poor.
Pope John Paul II taught

that the Eucharist must always lead
to social action, working for justice.

Fruitfulness: it’s a way of life.
When we trust that life of the Spirit,
Flowing in us,

will always produce abundant fruit,
We aren’t afraid of being “picked”;
We aren’t afraid of being fruitful.

Sometimes we are afraid of being “too fruitful”:
With our family life, in sharing with others,
We fear we’ll be stretched—we’ll run out.

This Sunday is “Respect Life” Sunday,
And we recall how

our world is afraid of the gift of life.
“No room; don’t want too much new life;
We don’t have enough for the weak and the sick.”
But when we tap deeply into the Life of the Vine—
That is, the Spirit Jesus shares with us—
we overcome that fear:
And he does in us

what we can never do on our own.

Then there’s fruit enough, t

here’s room enough;
we can have a posture of welcome:
for new life in our families,
for the poor, outsiders,

for people who are different.

And, we welcome opportunities to be reconciled:
Sometimes we can be so stingy
in sharing the ‘fruit’ of mercy.

The Vine—Jesus Christ—

intends us to be fruitful.
He gives us his Life, his Spirit,
To bear abundant, sweet fruit, not sour;
Sour fruit will soon lead to no fruit at all.

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