By Debra R. Auger
Lectionary reading for 3/19/2022: Psalm 63:1-8; Isaiah 5:1-7; Luke 6:43-45
Selected passage for reflection: Luke 6:43-45
Luke 6: 43-45 (NRSV)
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”
Following Jesus’ instruction on judgment, this short metaphorical pericope has us imagining trees, bushes and fruit, both good and evil. While dualistic in tone, the message is clear: that which flows from a life is indicative of its essence, its core, its heart and soul. At first glance, it may be tempting to focus on the good and evil part of the text and then begin to figure out how we or others may or may not measure up. But we must keep in mind the larger narrative which surrounds this brief teaching.
Before our passage today we read,
“37Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you.”
That instruction seems pretty clear but maybe not that simple. In this whole section in Luke, Jesus is seeking to paint a picture of the love and mercy of God to his followers. He is doing that by using both positive and negative examples. In our passage today we have both.
But there is also a deeper message here we read in verse 44, “each tree is known by its own fruit”. It seems like an obvious observation to make. Of course we harvest apples from apple trees and grapes from a vineyard. The bramble bush also bears fruit like raspberries and even roses, but may be more difficult to harvest because of the thorns. There is fruit nonetheless.
Each tree is unique and has its own fruit to bear. Each plant bears its own fruit but harvesting takes on its own character. What is your fruit to bear? What is your unique contribution to the kingdom of God whose fruit is mercy and love? How does your story and journey impact the fruit of your ministry and life? What is yours to do?
If it is true that the fruit of our lives result from the essence of our soul, how can we nurture our deepest self that our fruit is good and true to who we are as God’s beloved children?
In this season of Lent, still in the midst of the Covid pandemic and all the other viruses that infect us, take the time you need to discern your unique contribution to the world. What is the fruit your life has borne? How have others contributed to your discipleship with their own harvest? How can silence and contemplation help to nurture your deepest and truest self that your fruit might be nourishing to others? Ask the question-“what in mine to do?”
Try this breath prayer practice for one minute:
As you breathe in, pray: Nurture with love
As you breathe out, pray: That I may give from plenty
Loving Creator, who declared that all you have formed with your hands is good and very good, we thank you that you have made us each uniquely and yet in your own image of love. May the fruit of our lives bear witness to your love which knows no limit or boundary. Help us, in this Lenten season, to more fully grasp what is the height and depth and width of that love, as we walk with you to Jerusalem. Amen.
About the Author
Rev. Dr. Debra Auger, has served in various roles in ministry since the mid-80s and is now completing fifteen years of service as the dean of students at North Park theological Seminary. She is a trained spiritual director as well as a certified yoga instructor. Deb enjoys finding nature in the city (which is everywhere!) and taking long walks with her husband, Bob. In retirement, Deb hopes to continue “playing in clay”, teaching yoga and developing a spiritual direction practice incorporating both breath and body.