For us who journey with the Lord, we experience great joy, intangible rewards, spiritual delights, heavenly consolations, charisms, visions, healing miracles, freedom to serve and wisdom to avoid sin. There is of course the other side of the coin- we encounter trials, tribulations, persecutions, dark nights of the soul, spiritual dryness, confrontation to our faith, testing, and pruning. As workers in the vineyard of the Lord, we are called to bear fruit. It is a humbling privilege and a responsibility.
Often in our evangelisation ministry, we can limit bearing fruit only to mean bringing people to Jesus. We take pride when our atheist friend finally surrenders his life and starts believing; when the family member we have been praying for many years is now on his knees acknowledging the majesty of God; when we lay hand on the stranger who experience mystical healing; or when our prophecy takes hold of someone. We rejoice and rightly so!
But there is a bearing of fruit that we often avoid as it is quite painful- when we are pruned by the Lord, forced to look deeper into our life and acknowledge the need to change. It is an “ouch” when the Lord disciplines us and asks us to let go of those self-serving ways, the negative behaviour patterns that corrupt us and hurt people around. It is a challenge to accept that despite our hard work serving the Lord, we are also being called to work hard in becoming a new creation.
For the past few years, the Lord has been stretching my definition of bearing fruit. In the past, I was excited with bearing fruit by the number of people I bring to Him. Lately, I am asked not so much to focus on others, but on myself- I need to mature in the fruit that St Paul talks about in Galatians. When Father Mike Barry, a healing priest from USA visited our parish lately, his prophecies and gift of knowledge was spot on. He was an epitome of the fruit of patience as he prayed for every single person who attended.For me, he picked on how I was feeling – counting the cost of serving. I did not like that sentiment and through Father Barry, the Lord gave me the grace to overcome and started to serve with joy again.
A writer compared people to different fruits- we are not all apples, pears, oranges, bananas, pineapples, strawberries, melons, etc. But if we put all these together, they can become a wholesome fruit salad, nourishing the body. I strongly desire for some family members and friends to experience the Lord as I encounter Him. But that is not to be. I can only continue to pray, respect their uniqueness and trust that the Lord is looking after them in His own special way. For my part, I must continue to abide in Christ and yield to divine cleansing. “He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” John 15:2.