Acts 9:26-31, 1 John 3:18-24, John 15:1-8
In simple terms, to bear fruit means to yield a positive result. When we say that a plant is bearing fruit, it means that the plant is yielding what is expected of it. To bear good fruits the plant needs to go through a lot of processes. Therefore to bear good fruits demands a lot of responsibilities from us.
After creating man, God commands Him to “be fruitful and multiply. In essence, to be fruitful is a command that God gives to us from the first day He created us.
God repeated this command severally which underscores how important this is to Him. In Genesis 1:28, this command was given to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 8:17, it was pronounced to the animals after the flood.
God repeats this command in Genesis 9:1 to Noah and his sons and also in Genesis 9:7 to Noah and his sons. In Genesis 28:3 Isaac pronounces a blessing to Jacob. In Genesis 35:11, the same command was given to Jacob.
This explains that we have a serious obligation to bear good fruit. God did not plant us in this world to whirl away our time. God planted us in this world for something. To bear fruit is a command. It is what we must do.
He who fails to do this can incur the wrath of the father. In the gospel, Jesus says “Everyone who doesn’t bear fruit, the father cuts away. But the one who bears fruit, he prunes to make Him bear more fruit. In essence, God loves it when we make efforts. Any effort that we make is never in vain.
When a farmer goes to the farm to plant a seed, he expects the seed to germinate and bear fruit. This is exactly how it is.
You are in this world for a mission so precious to God. He expects us to fulfill our missions. In essence, God wants us to bear good fruits, fruits that will last, fruits that will lead us to eternity.
The Fruit that God wants Us to Bear.
The fruit God wants to produce is to live a life that changes others and acts in a way that others can be influenced positively by what we do. We come to the world to touch the lives of one another.
In the first reading, we can see how the churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria are building themselves up and growing mightily under the power of the Holy Spirit. In order words, we need to be the building block of one another.
Secondly, the fruit we talk about here are not temporary. Like the Churches mentioned in the first reading, these fruits are not just worldly, they are the fruits that come from the spirit of God, the fruits that can last forever.
In John 15:16, Jesus tells his disciples, “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
These are fruits that will last. They are those fruits that are produced by the Holy Spirit. The fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The more we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity and authority to reign in our lives, the more this fruit is evident. Then how can we do this? Let us go into detail through the readings of today.
1. Through the Word.
In John 6:63, Jesus tells the Jews who gather around him that the words that He speaks are spirit and life. In the second reading of today, John says that “Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.
Then, in the gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that they are pruned already, through the word that He has spoken to them. To prune something means to remove unwanted parts of something. To remove anything useless, to shave off.
Hence, the word of God removes every spiritual debris in our hearts. When we hear the word, and live on it, we live only how God wants. We purge our hearts from envy, hatred, sin, guilt and remain in peace.
This is why John advises in the second reading “My dear people, if we cannot be condemned by our conscience, we need not be afraid in God’s presence, and whatever we ask him, we shall receive.
When we purify our hearts, the spirit of God takes over. Hence we begin to reflect goodness wherever we are.
When we live in the spirit, we bear good fruits in whatever we do because He who is leading you then is not the flesh but the spirit of God.
When the spirit of God takes control, there is always a hunger to be good and do the will of God. Hence, you radiate goodness, faith, joy, peace, wherever you are and wherever you go.
And where these virtues are reigning supreme there is always progress. Imagine a family that lives in peace and helps each other.
2. Through Jesus.
In the gospel, Jesus compares our relationship with Him like the vine and the branches. He said that the only way we can bear much fruit is to abide in Him.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself but must remain part of the vine, is the way we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in Him.
The Greek word used for remain here is menēte meaning to stay, to remain, abide, to fix in, conform to etc. Here, Jesus is saying if we truly want to bear good fruits, we have to stay in Him or remain fixed in Him. In essence, we have to conform ourselves to the life of Jesus and stay with Him.
Secondly, In the Igbo language, “remain” means “noro” meaning “be there”. Hence Jesus is telling us to always be there with Him.
Even when things become difficult, be there with Jesus, even when temptations come to challenge our faith, be there with Jesus.
Therefore. it means that Jesus is everything that you have, He fills your heart, your mind and your soul. When this happens we radiate the spirit of Jesus wherever we go.
Just like a branch draws strength, nourishment, protection, and energy from the vine, we draw inspiration, grace, nourishment, energy and protection from Jesus.
Hence, for any disciple of Jesus to be spiritually productive, must be firmly connected to Jesus. Without this, we are nothing.
Without Jesus, we can only speak and talk from human wisdom, without this, we can only depend on our strength. But when Jesus leads, graces abound.
So, when we neglect Jesus, ignore His word, and relegate close relationship with God, our life becomes fruitless. We can only produce worldly fruits which do not last. Therefore to cut from Jesus is to cut off eternal life.
3. We Make The Decision.
In the gospel, Jesus says “if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit”.
Here, Jesus makes a conditional request. Therefore we have to decide to remain or not but if we remain in Him, He will surely remain in us. The choice is ours to make.
1. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells His disciples “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God.
In the gospel, today Jesus says that it is for the glory of the Father that we should bear much fruit. Hence, when we truly bear good fruit, we are invariably giving glory to God.
When we become light to others, God takes all the glory. Thereby the way to make God happy, the way to glorify God is through the type of life we live.
Sometimes, after the mass, the priest tells the congregation “Go home in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. We do not glorify God when we live in hatred, when we fight against each other, and when we live in sin.
This is why Jesus scolded the Jews when He recounted the prophecy of Isaiah in Matthew 15:8 that `these people honour me with their lips but their hearts are very far from me”.
2. In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus says that one of the greatest commandments is to love one another. In the Second reading, St. John says that we shall receive what we ask because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that He wants.
His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.
Did you discover that in the first reading, the followers of Jesus accepted Saul wholeheartedly as one of their own? None could talk of revenge or remember what He did to them in the past.
This is the spirit of Christ. It is the spirit of forgiveness, the spirit of love, tolerance and understanding. With this kind of spirit, there will be peace and progress in every family, every relationship and every organization.
As Christians, God expects us to live in love and unity. We do not live in grudges, mauling over the sins of the past. To bear good fruit we have to love each other truly. The second reading says that our love must be sincere.
3. The question we can then ask ourselves today is “what type of fruit do we bear? Do we bring light to people or do we lead them astray?
When problems come, where do you go? What type of advice do you give to people? Can those who come to us also encounter Jesus?
Are we instruments of peace or destruction? What type of fruit do you radiate? The fruits that we bear says a lot if we are truly close to God or not.
4. In the gospel, Jesus says that we cannot bear good fruits by ourselves. We need to be deeply attached to Him.
Therefore, it is not by our strength. We always need God’s inspiration and grace. We need to remain close to God. Therefore the way to bear good fruit is to remain close to the vine.
Without Jesus, we are nothing. When we remain close to Jesus, our prayers would be effective. He says in the gospel, “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask whatever you will and you will surely get it”. When we remain close to Jesus, the gospel says that the fruit we shall bear must be plenty.
Without the presence of Jesus, we become a noisy bell. To bear good fruit, we need to follow His word, we make God’s word our daily food.
To bear good fruit, we need to live in love and have faith in Jesus. Hence, only in Him can we find true joy. Therefore remain strong in the Lord and continue to make effort. God does not forsake His own.
May God bless you and give us the grace to bear good fruits. Remain blessed.