Saturday, September 13, 2014

A fruit reduction

In the Gospels Jesus uses smilies and metaphors to describe spiritual reality, trying to use ordinary things from daily life to describe what we cannot examine directly. Today we hear,

A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.

On one level that is true. On another level we are not trees. An apple tree can in fact bear only apples. But we human beings can bear many different kinds of fruit. From year to year, day to day, hour to hour the fruit we bear can change. One day filled with Christian charity we can bear the sweetest of peaches. The very next day in a bad mood we can be pure persimmons.

One of the worst characteristics of 21sf century American culture is our tendency to reduce a person's life to its single lowest point. It is a sin worse than murder because you leave the assassinated person walking around. We erase every good thing done before or after. We reduce a human being to an action.

The Catholic Church is famous for "Respect Life." Unfortunately too many people think this refers only to abortion. It doesn't. It is rooted in our belief in the sanctity of all human life, the dignity to which every human being is entitled simply because they are created in the image and likeness of God. This dignity can never be lost, given away, or taken away.

Can one moment in life define us? Yes. The moment of our baptism defines us as Christians, members of the Body of Christ. It is a moment of supernatural grace.

But no one human action can define a person. We are the most complex of God's creatures, made of matter and sprit, body and soul. Our lives are both natural and supernatural. All of these aspects together define who we are. To try and reduce this complexity in any way, is to make us sub-human.

If each of us is honest, we can look across the entire span of our lives and acknowledge the variety of fruit we have borne both good and bad, sweet and bitter. Every person we pass, every person we see on television, every person we read about is the same. Let us not do to others what we would not want others to do to us. Instead, in every person let us see the image and likeness of God and show the respect that is due.