Wednesday of Week 12 in Ordinary Time
Every good tree bears good fruit.
It took me years to understand the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.
When I pray, I am guilty of constantly asking God for something either for family, a loved one or myself. I pray for protection, blessings, for direction. A decade ago, I learnt about the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. I started praying for a particular gift. I prayed for years and almost gave up, thinking that God probably didn’t see fit for me to receive that gift. Finally, after sometime, out of nowhere I received that gift. Needless to say, I was overjoyed, I am finally worthy of this gift! But why did God take so long? Well-meaning friends would probably say, “Always in God’s time.’ Which is true. His knows best and his timing is perfect. But the wait is a test of patience. Looking back, I realise that God didn’t answer my prayer for that gift until I was ready. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides (1 Cor 12:11). Archbishop Goh always says that God grants us gifts not for ourselves but to serve others. To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). So be careful what you pray for! I jest, but truly, know that when we pray for any gift, it is how we use the gift to bless others. And with these gifts, we should also bear fruit.
Today’s gospel speaks of good trees bearing good fruits, and any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down. To get a good crop, farmers till the soil, mix in fertilizer to make sure it is nutrient rich, and then sow the seeds. As the plant grows, the farmer prunes parts that are unhealthy, no longer growing, and diseased or have died. This is much like our spiritual lives. We have to put in the effort to pray, nourish ourselves with God’s word, and allow the word to take root in our hearts. God will cut and prune parts of us that do not fit in His plan for our growth. The pruning is painful, but necessary. As we grow spiritually, others will be able to see the fruits of the spirit in us. I am now praying for faithfulness and self-control. Because I need these to overcome my sinful self, this crazy world and to be a better person.
If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. (Gal 6:8-9)
As I grow older, the things that were once important to me as a young adult no longer matter. I no longer care for the limelight of being out in the world, the parties and socializing. I no longer seek for other’s acceptance, nor crave the latest handbag or piece of jewellery. The stuff I did to just ‘fit in’ in the world seems so redundant now. Pleasing people and working hard to earn their approval to feel secure and accepted doesn’t work. I see how God has been pruning me these past years. Recently, a friend showed us a picture of his diamond and sapphire cufflinks he used to wear when he was in a corporate job, lamenting, “What do I do with this now?’ Why would anyone need diamond cufflinks? I guess some of us did. Today, I am comfortable in my own skin, whether society sees it as ‘growth’ or not. What I want at this stage of my life is a sense of generativity and to live a life of purpose outside of myself. I hope to be a fruitful tree with a solid strong trunk and big far-reaching branches. How will I know that I am bearing fruit? I guess it’s when there is positive change in how I live my life, how I treat others, and how generous I am with others. For now I learn to let go, and let God. I have to keep trying, persevering, praying, and maybe one day before I know it, I will have grown a strong branch.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Father, give us the grace to be malleable, to soften our hearts that we might welcome you into our lives and let you lead. Teach us to lead holy lives and for each day we live, be pleasing to you. Let us become good trees and bear good fruits. In your name, Amen.
Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you for being our shield and guide in this journey of life. Thank you for being so generous with your gifts and love in spite of how sinful we are. May we persevere in our spiritual growth and walk closer with you.