The deeper message Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel is that we must repent. And the main target for repentance? We, must repent from living unproductive lives, lives that are so focused on our own needs, our own fun, our own bank accounts, that we get in into a rut of living a life that is not bearing any spiritual fruit. And is maybe not that much fun.
This process of questioning and reflecting upon how we might do more or do better in our lives is a big part of what it means to repent. Again, Jesus says today that we must repent, we must change our lives in ways that continually make us bear more and better fruit, of the kind that builds the kingdom of peace and justice.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we recall that the words “Forgive us our trespasses” are immediately followed by “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgiveness usually requires some major change of heart and mind. Of course, it’s painful—our egos are involved! But it’s best for us to remember that there will BE no forgiveness for us, if we are not actively forgiving others. Any honest person knows it’s never enough simply to avoid breaking the 10 Commandments—that is only the least we can do. But if we are focused on reviewing in a thoughtful way our goals and ideals, our lifestyle, and our habits, with an eye toward producing more fruit—the Commandments usually take care of themselves.
It is all about the big picture, our overall mindset. Good ideas come naturally the more we ask questions such as, “How does my life show good works? Am I aware of other people’s needs? Do people around me benefit from my being alive; or do I use others?” Bearing the best fruit means that we try to understand those who touch our lives. By helping them on life’s journey, we ourselves become ever-bearing trees who will live forever.
“O Lord, be not mindful of my many sins, but forgive me all my misdeeds, for your mercy to me is without limit. You have been my help and my protection”—St. Ephrem of Syria. As we continue on our Lenten journey to conversion of heart, let us pray for one another. Take advantage of the many spiritual opportunities our parish offers to help us draw closer to the Lord this Lent (please see the special flyer available at all the church entrances). May God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish