Saturday, October 22, 2011
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:33-42
One of the things we love to do this time of year is go pick apples. There is something wondrous and amazing about wandering around an apple orchard in the crisp fall air, looking over all the fruit trees. The light and the breeze make the experience bordering on holy. The abundance of fruit and sheer beauty of the orchard and the trees around them turning red and gold can make an average day spectacular. And as it gets close to Halloween and All Saints' Day, the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is very thin, one is very aware of the liminal quality of life and the tenderness of every day.
Jesus is still being harassed by the religious leaders, who want to argue theology while the people in their care suffer and die. He wants them to understand that their words have power and meaning, that sound carries through time, space and eternity. We are invited to remember that we are known by our fruits - whether we offer words of solace, compassion and forgiveness, or whether we judge and condemn others - we are known by our fruits. And Jesus asks us to use our time, our words, our hands and our gifts for the love and redemption of all, rather than in the quest for winning the argument and being right.
Today I ask God to help me use my all for the good of others. May all that we do and all that we say bring God's love to this very needy and broken world. "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer."