Fruit is an important word in Christian life.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we learn that God created male and female in His own image and likeness, blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” God, Our Creator, gave man and woman, whom He created, the ability to create. We are co-creators with God. But, He didn’t stop there, He gave us “dominion” over all living things. He put us in charge of everything He created — we became stewards of God’s gifts.
In the second chapter of Genesis, the story of The Garden of Eden, God tells man that he is free to eat from any tree, except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eat from that tree and man will die. We know the rest of the story, Adam and Eve ate the “forbidden fruit” and were exiled from the Garden. Forbidden fruit is when man’s spiritual battle began — rather than depending on God, man tries to be God. (Remember — forbidden fruit makes many jams.)
Throughout Scripture, we read about first fruits — giving our first and best to God. This refers to our sacrificial giving; not just giving from what is left over from our surplus. It doesn’t apply just to our financial resources and possessions. It also means being generous with our time in prayer and performing charitable works.
Giving from our first fruits also emulates God. In John 3:16 we learn of God’s unconditional love for us. He loves us so much that He gave us the first fruits of His love, His only son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice that we may have eternal life. And, in the book of Revelations we learn that if we follow Jesus, we will become the first fruits of mankind and obtain salvation.
John’s Gospel tells us that as disciples of Jesus, we are “appointed to go and bear fruit that will remain.” So how do we bear good fruit? We do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christian moral life is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives each of us seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (holiness). As we try to live a Christ-centered life, these virtues become more perfected in us. The result — the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.
Just as the Holy Spirit guided Jesus for 40 days in the desert, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance during Lent to prune away the things that move you away from God and will help you bear good fruit.
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or [email protected]