Our readings this Sunday all mention fruits—the fruits of our labors in God’s service. Each reading adds something to the analogy.
The prophet Jerimiah emphasizes our need to be rooted in God in order to bear fruit: “the one who trusts in the LORD…is like a tree planted beside the waters…in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.” If we are going to bear fruit we need deep roots, and that means spending time immersing ourselves in the Word of God—the Bible.
St. Paul adds that we are working for fruit in heaven, not here on earth. We are imitating Christ Jesus, Who is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The fruits of our labors will be the souls that enter into heaven with our help.
Jesus then emphasizes how this world will reject us because we are working for heaven instead of for earthly gain. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.” Our goal is so important that it is worth paying any price necessary in this life to achieve it.
This is why we can call the Martyrs blessed even though they died. Their deaths are triumphant because they gave their lives in witness to the higher truths of heaven. Their willing surrender of their earthly lives give witness to the higher good of eternal life in heaven. The fruit we are called to bear is far greater than any earthly glory we might earn by similar effort. Moreover, in doing the will of God, we will be capable of accomplishing so much more than what we could imagine on our own. Heaven’s glory is beyond anything we could ever expect. We are called to root ourselves in Christ and bear fruit in His Name. May we be worthy branches of so great a vine and bear much fruit.