Sunday, August 06, 2017

Five-a-day: is it really good for you?

Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

“Eat five pieces of fruit a day because they’re good for you!”
Well that’s the theory anyway. It’s supported by good evidence. Eat more fruit and veg, and you’ll have better health. There has been a bit of a problem with this though. Think of the smoothie company who advertise their product as being two of your five-a-day and yet fill their cartons with more sugar than Willy Wonka has ever seen in his life. It tastes nice AND contains your five-a-day so it must be good for you, right?

By their fruits ye shall know them!


Our Lord seems to give us a bit of a problem here. The fruit of a tree is its end product. It appears when it has finished doing all the growing, so we pick it. Then we ask the question, “is it good fruit or bad fruit?” If it looks mouldy and has a worm wiggling in it, then we know the answer. The trouble comes when it looks perfectly okay. Then, the only way you can tell is to bite into it. If it’s nice and sweet and juicy, it’s good fruit. If it’s horrible, or you find half a worm in it, you know that it isn’t. You can’t tell until you’ve taken the plunge and sampled it.

We have to remember that it’s not the tree’s fault if the fruit is mouldy, nor if it has a worm in it. It is the tree’s fault if the fruit is always bitter, or sour. The Lord says that such a tree needs to be cut down and cast into the fire. The reason is clear. Mould and worms come from outside the plant, but the substance of the fruit itself come from the tree. If the tree is bad, so will the fruit be, but we won’t know until we’ve tried it.


And this is what awaits us. When we come face to face with Our Lord on the day of His coming, everyone will be crying “Lord, Lord!” The fact of the matter will be that not everyone will have been worshipping Him – they will have been worshipping some different person whom they call, “Lord”. For many people, this will be a “Jesus” of their own invention, one that will approve everything that they do and ignore every sin that they commit. How can we recognise their fruit?

St Paul tells us:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
All of these are the results of not worshipping God. As soon as we see any of these things in our lives, we know that we have to do something to uproot the evil that is bringing these things into being. We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God from these, because each of them is a refusal to recognise God as king. Each of them has its roots in our selfishness.

St Paul tells us the fruit that we need to bear.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.


Bearing fruit takes time, which is why we need to weigh our actions up against the fruit that we want to produce AND against the fruit that we don’t want to produce. We uproot our tendency to bear bad fruit by confessing and repenting our sins. We cultivate good fruit by plugging ourselves into the vine that is Our Lord Jesus Christ through worshipping Him and receiving His grace in the sacraments that He gives us to bear His good fruit.

That’s the key thing: we want to bear the fruit of the Spirit, not of ourselves.


We might need a five-a-day to keep our bodies healthy, but what are the five-a-day that you need to keep yourself bearing the fruit that shall last in God’s Kingdom?

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