Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gospel Words for Today: Good Fruit

Anne a lay apostle talks about dualistic thinking. Justin Sofio, a young lay apostle working for the mission, wrote the following after Anne's talk at a prison:

"So many of the prisoners have had people label them as 'bad.' We watched a look of relief come over them as Anne explained the danger of dualistic thinking and how this is not what Jesus wants from us. Dualistic thinking is the idea that people are either all bad or all good. The truth is we each do bad things and we each do good things and we are all somewhere in the middle. It is inaccurate and unfair to label someone as all good or all bad."

What are you producing today, lay apostles? Good fruit to grow closer to Christ by shining His Light to others? Or bad fruit of judgment, hatred, and violence?

Today's Gospel (Matthew 7:15-20) asks us to look at the outcome of any situation and you will determine if it is good or bad very easily:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits, you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

In Heaven Speaks About Addictions, St. Barnabas gives us a message about worshipping false gods (our addictions). The following quote is from our reading in Climbing the Mountain this morning and although quite long (but so worth the read), fits perfectly with today's Gospel:

"My dear friend, notice that Jesus calls you His apostle. He is asking you to serve Him. Do not make the mistake of thinking that He is talking to someone else. He is talking to you. There is work for you in the Kingdom. You have suffered, it is true. We all suffer during our time on earth. But Jesus can heal any wounds. You are trying to heal yourself. You are trying to make yourself feel better. But you cannot do this alone and the healing you are offering your body and soul is making you sicker. I have the true healing, the true peace. I am Barnabas and I want to help you too. It can be difficult to make a decision to step away from your addictions. I understand. The enemy convinces you that you need these things to be happy. And yet, you are not happy. Be honest with yourself for a moment and hear me. You are not at peace if you are attached to something so much that you need it unless it is God. I am referring generally to things that you are putting in your body, but any habit can become destructive if it takes you from your duties or separates you from purity or holiness. Some of these things are fine in moderation, perhaps, but in excess, they begin to take over. These things, these addictions, once they hold you, do not let you go until you make a firm decision to stop completely. Only then can heaven remove their power over you and free your soul. My friend, you object in your heart. You hold this addiction close to you and would like me to be wrong. This alone tells you that there is a problem. I am not wrong. I am looking from the heavenly perspective and I assure you, I am correct when I tell you that Jesus wants to free you.

Jesus wants you to view the world as He views the world. Only in this way will you serve Him as He needs you to serve. Only in this way will you see those around you with His eyes and correctly identify your role in their lives. If you have an addiction, you have acquired a bad thing, and that is tunnel vision. You see with the eyes of your addiction. You will serve, yes, but only in as much as it does not interfere with your addiction. Do you understand? The addiction begins to take the first place in your life, putting Jesus, and your vocation in the second. This tunnel vision gradually closes off the heavenly vision until, at the end, when the addiction rules you, you can see only it. You are then the servant to the addiction. The addiction is your master. And the addiction is not a benign master, seeking your welfare. The addiction is a cruel master eventually demanding everything from you. You will have to bring the addiction offerings of your dignity, your purity of intention, and perhaps
even your membership in the Body of Christ.

Now, you say I am exaggerating. You cannot fool me because I know what you are thinking. I am one who understands addiction, having suffered from it myself. You are not unique when you suffer from an addiction. We end up the same way. Compare the master that is your addiction to Jesus Christ. Jesus seeks only your welfare and the welfare of those around you. He asks you to serve in dignity, in goodness, in company with all of the just on earth and the saints in heaven. You are surrounded by heavenly beings in the form of angels who will assist you in each moment and in every situation. Jesus sends you His Spirit, Who enlightens you and gives you courage and strength. Jesus has prepared a place for you here in heaven. I can go to this place and see it because it is here. We do not tell lies. We deal only in the truth. I would like you to sit silently before Christ now in this spirit of truth and let Jesus tell you if your addiction is a problem.

I want to tell you about the price you are paying to maintain this addiction as your friend. And that is how you view it, is it not? You think this addiction is a good thing for you, a consolation, and a compensation for the pain you have suffered. Let me state again, lest you have forgotten. Pain is a universal experience. Hurt is a universal experience. You are not alone in your pain and in your hurt. Do not think you are somehow entitled to this addiction because you have suffered more than others. This would be false, a lie, and remember that heaven does not deal in lies. So where there is only truth, we must speak with clarity. Everyone on earth has been hurt or will be hurt and has felt pain or will feel pain. That makes you like everyone else. You are not entitled to use this addiction to dull your pain. It is wrong, a sin. To say that you are in special need of this earthly balm is making an excuse. It is also preventing you from dealing with your pain. And what happens when people do not deal directly with their pain? The enemy turns the pain to bitterness. In souls who allow Jesus to help, pain becomes wisdom and compassion. Pain is used for great spiritual growth. Do not listen to those who tell you that your addiction is acceptable because you suffer. These people are leading you away from Christ through flawed thinking. This is the thinking that leads souls to hell. I am not saying that you are going to hell. I am not saying that those who have died in their addictions are in hell. Jesus is all mercy. He is all goodness and forgiveness. He does not condemn a soul unless a soul insists on being condemned. But it is because of His very goodness and mercy that you should serve Him more completely and you cannot do that if you serve another master."

Lay apostles, let's all serve Him today and produce some good fruit for the Kingdom!

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities You present every day to further Your Perfect Plan for each and every one of us on this earth!

God bless,

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