Every tree can be told by its own fruit
Fr Paul reads from Luke’s Gospel (6: 43-49) in which Jesus tells his disciples there is no sound tree that bears rotten fruit. As Fr Paul mentioned yesterday, this Gospel draws to a conclusion the Sermon on the Plain. Today, we hear a second warning from Jesus. He uses two images to do this.
The first is the image of the fruit tree, which would have been everywhere at the time of Jesus. Jesus is a master of using what is around him in nature, or in use by the community, as examples when teaching his disciples. It is quite natural, with all the fruit-bearing trees around, that Jesus chose this image. The message from this is that a rotten tree can only produce rotten fruit.
The second image Jesus uses is of floods and flood warnings, which might seem very strange given the arid conditions in the time of Jesus and around the shores of the Dead Sea. However, when you think in terms of a flash flood after heavy rain and water rushing down the arid hillsides and pooling in the valleys, this was always a possibility in Gospel times.
Fr Paul says these two contrasting images surround the key question, which is right in the middle of the Gospel, ‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?’
Jesus, with these two images, is giving a sad reflection on the stubbornness of his listeners.
For our reflection today, Fr Paul says we might pause and look into our hearts and ask ourselves ‘How stubborn am I when it comes to listening to the word of Jesus to follow his example?’