St. Dominic Catholic Church

2002 Merton Ave | Los Angeles, CA 90041 | (323) 254-2519

Pastor's Corner

February 25, 2018

Bearing fruit is an essential demand of life in Christ and life in the Church.  The person who does not bear fruit does not remain in communion: "Each branch of mine that bears no fruit, he (my Father) takes away" [John 15:2]

Pope St. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 32

Over the 25 years of my priesthood I have come to believe that many of us do not realize how profoundly challenging the Gospel is.  We don’t understand how profoundly different the life of a believer should be from someone who does not believe in God.  We seem to think that if we’re not committing mortal sins, not harming others, or basically trying to show up to Mass, or say a few prayers, or put a dollar in the collection plate from time to time we deserve a medal – or heaven.  But, as the quote above suggests, God is looking for more.  He demands fruit.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us a bit about this fruit. “The Holy Spirit teaches [Christians] to pray to the Father (Gal 4:6) and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal 5:22) by charity in action.”  The fruit God demands is concrete acts of love, not just good wishes for others.  The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are examples, but not at all exhaustive. 

In Matthew 25:31-46, a reading we had last week at daily Mass, Jesus says clearly we will be judged based on how our faith manifested in the care for those who were hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, homeless, naked, or a stranger.  These are examples of the fruit Jesus demands.  They are examples of our love for God, which Jesus links with love for our neighbor. 

How we bear this fruit is intimated in the quote just above from the Catechism.  We bear the fruit of the Spirit by the Spirit who becomes our life.  In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, Jesus says he is the vine and we are the branches.  Furthermore, “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (Jn 15:4)

This season of Lent is the acceptable time to draw closer to Jesus, the true vine, through denying ourselves activities we like (video games, binge-watching TV, gossiping about our crazy Tia) to cultivate other activities that truly give life and unite us to Jesus in the Holy Spirit: prayer, the sacraments in which we encounter Jesus Himself, Scripture reading in which we hear His voice, forgiving others as we have been forgiven, and acts of selflessness in imitation of Him Who died for us out of love.  In Him we will bear “a rich harvest” for the kingdom.