Luke 6:39-45
Bear Good Fruit
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Luke writes to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.

Jesus told his disciples a parable, "Can a blind person guide a blind person?  Will not both fall into a pit?  No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.  Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,' when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?  You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye.

"A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does  rotten tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit.  For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.  A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."

Every time Jesus says, “You hypocrites!” I admit I cringe. I cringe because hypocrisy really upset Our Lord — and I am a hypocrite.

One of the most powerful realities in the New Testament is the transformation of the lives of those who looked upon Jesus with love and faith.  Minds were changed, bodies were healed, sins were forgiven, hearts were set on fire, new missions were embraced - and the world has never been the same.

The Transformation includes every aspect of our lives.  One aspect of our human condition that desperately needs transformation is the tendency to compare ourselves to those around us and be quick to point out their faults.

The quickness with which we often point ut the weaknesses, sins and mistakes of others flows from our own wounds.  We sadly want this action to make us feel better and look better in the eyes of other people.  It is an attempt to bury our own brokenness and sins under the cloak of other peoples' struggles.  This common  fault stems from a blindness that seeks to place the attention on others to keep from having to look honestly in the mirror at our own faults.  It is tragically common that the faults we see in others are exactly the same things with which we struggle.  This weakness is ironically, one that usually drives others people up the wall.  Yet, we continue to turn to it, hoping that it will soothe our own poor self-esteem: yet, it never, ever works.

In the gospel today, Jesus challenges us to turn away from this sinful tendency with the help of a simple analogy - we are quick to point out the speck in our neighbor's eye when we have a beam in our own.

Plain and simple, our precious Lord does not want us judging our neighbor.  First of all, every human being stands before God equally in need of his mercy and healing as well as the newness of life that come from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In addition, God alone know a person's heart.  We do not have the whole picture of another person's life, it is not our place to judge their soul.  Furthermore, the time and energy we spend judging them and speaking ill of them is a colossal waste of our time and energy that should be spent on building God's kingdom rather than tearing it down with ur harsh words and cynical attitudes.

This serves as a great segue to Jesus' second main point in today's Gospel passage.  Our Lord calls us to bear fruit for the kingdom.  "For every tree is known by its fruit ...  A good person ut of the store of goodness in his heart produces good."

Those who have encountered Christ and begin to draw closer to him in faith and love gradually stop judging those around them.  They know well that they are redeemed sinners and have no right to selfishly call out the sins of their neighbor.  Furthermore, they spend their energies building up those around them by focusing on their gifts, talents and potential.  They invite those around them to enter into a dynamic relationship with Christ who gives the deepest meaning to our lives, who brings new life to hurting souls and who grants us the joy of participating in his mission of building the kingdom on this earth.

Christians cannot hold back the joy of their encounter with Christ and all the gifts that flow from engaging him in faith.  They are driven by gratitude to share this joy with others in word and deed, sometimes with boldness but mostly through the humble example of their daily lives.  They plant seeds of faith in the hearts of family members, co-workers and those in need.  In this way, all the baptized bear fruit in our  world for Christ.