Tilling the soil and planting are not areas that I excel in. Somehow plants that I try to grow fail miserably in my hands and I will be the first to admit that gardening is not among my strengths even though I have always made a point to have indoor plants in my office. On the other hand, Jesus even though He was probably schooled in carpentry by Joseph, knew quite a bit about plants and farming. That is why many of the illustrations used by Jesus were around life in a farm. Most of Jesus’ listeners would have been farmers themselves or, at least, very familiar with farming.  The examples with which Jesus needed to make His points were literally all around Him.

From having taught His disciples about the values of the kingdom in the Beatitudes and then calling them to love their enemies, today Jesus addresses the virtues of authenticity, integrity, and even credibility that are required of those who choose Jesus as their Lord and Master. If we follow the progression of Luke in his gospel, the demands to follow Jesus are becoming more and more challenging. 

The example of how a good tree only produces good fruit that we hear in the Gospel today is founded on the premise that each one of us is being called to practise what we profess. I still remember these words said by the Archbishop at my diaconate ordination: ‘Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.’ There are profound words uttered to the one being ordained. However, in the context of the Gospel today, I would like to paraphrase these words so that they apply to all of us: ??????? ???? ?? ????, ??? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ???????, ??? ??? ????????? ?? ???????? ???? ?? ??????? ??? ??????? 

It is just easier to believe in our head and profess with our lips, however, the test of true faith is in living out what we profess. Jesus was often critical of the hypocrisy demonstrated by the religious leaders of His time. That is why the Gospel today is clearly addressed to those who follow Him. In other words, that which we profess with our lips must-see action in the good works that we do. Anyone who wants to prove that they have faith, it is only in the good works that accompany, by our good fruits. A faith without accompanying good works is fake.

Faith is our commitment to God as the Creator of our lives and a relationship to Jesus as our Lord and Master. Jesus makes clear today that faith is only real when it permeates and becomes the motivation for our acting and daily living. There is no doubt that we are far from perfect – we will fail and fall. That is why in the first part of today’s Gospel Jesus warns His disciples about being overly critical of others while at the same time failing to be self-critical because if we fail to put the same measure on ourselves as we demand of others, then we become, in the words of Jesus, hypocrites.

In Christian discipleship, there is no room for “do as I say, not as I do”. The life of discipleship must be a reflection of the inner life and the inner life is the relationship we have with God. That is why Jesus clearly states that only a good tree bears good fruit. Authenticity, integrity and credibility were the marks of Jesus’ early life and if we want to claim to be a follower of Jesus, let us remember that the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher [Jesus]. 

In the verse that follows today’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples, ‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” and not do what I say?’ (Luke 6:46). We will hear similar words in Chapter 8 of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus reminds us that our relationship with Him demands that we hear the word of God, and act according to it. I read these words recently: ‘Without acting upon God’s word, our faith is phoney’. Hard on the ears but truth to the core!

Let us always pray to Jesus our Master that we will receive the grace to ??????? ???? ?? ????, ??? ??????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ???????, ??? ??? ????????? ?? ???????? ???? ?? ??????? ??? ???????   – faith in Christ always results in good works.

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (26 Feb 2022)