“…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.” Jesus was speaking about false prophets, a warning to his disciples. Not bad advice in general.
Perhaps not a bad criteria to judge those who would minister in the name of the Church – from volunteer to Bishop. The problem these days is that I wonder whether we would agree of what constitutes “good fruit” from a ministry or minister. There are places in which good fruit is measured by the liturgical celebrations of solemnities, feasts, and memorials; other places via outreach ministries. I was once told I was a poor minister and pastor because I dishonored the Blessed Virgin Mary. The instance was just having celebrated a Mass and did not center the homily on Mary. It was the Feast of the Ascension.
I have been judged a poor pastor because I did not do enough peace and justice advocacy, not enough healing masses, not enough prayer groups, I did not start a secular Carmelite group (odd request of a Franciscan pastor), I did not start [fill in the blank with whatever the popular piety of the person speaking], I did not condemn some President, some Pope, or some popular person for whom public shaming was deemed appropriate – at least by the one speaking.
As St. Paul is keen to remind us we are one body with many parts. We are of One Spirit with many gifts. And today’s gospel reminds us that we have been given much as this community and of this community much is expected. But we are not the end-all-be-all of parish communities – we are but one member of the Body of this diocese, of the Body the Church Universal. We have our role to fulfill, our good fruit to bear.
Perhaps the question we can ask of ourselves as a parish is whether we are bearing good fruit that is needed locally. As we are being fed, are we feeding those who need to be fed in mind, body and Spirit?
As an individual member with spiritual gifts, we can ask the same question of ourselves.