I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord. – John 15:16
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you! These words of Jesus are the eloquence by which we live as Catholics. First, we are chosen! How beautiful a gift this is, to be chosen by God as His beloved that we might love in return; as we are called to go and bear fruit that will last. Pope Francis recently reminded us of the jewel which is Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi. Pope Francis said, “What is the vocation of the Church? It is not numbers. It is to evangelize. The joy of the Church is to evangelize . . . today the Lord is knocking from within to be let out. This is the need of today, the vocation of the Church today.”
This time of year is a time when many of our young people are remembering all their years in education and now are graduating or going to another school, another grade, or perhaps, a ministry or position. We, as adults, who accompany these young people, also recall when we graduated or a time when a sibling did the same. We think of that time with fondness or regret, but no matter, know that God chose each one from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last.
So the question I ask is, ‘how are we doing?’ This time of year is also a time of renewal as we think about how things are with our own effort to go and bear fruit that will last. I am not a farmer; however, I think about the fruit which I consume and I know that it is difficult to make it last. There are many steps which the farmers and the grocers take to get the fruit to my table. And, there are many things which I must do to preserve the fruit to ‘make it last’. By my consumption, the fruit nourishes me and gives me energy to sustain me.
But Jesus was speaking about a fruit that is not tangible. He spoke of the fruit of heaven, His own Body, which he offers us through the Eucharist. This is, I think, what we sometimes miss in all of our celebrations for graduation. We are graduating and moving forward. However, it is the fruit which we grow and make last for God that is the important lesson. It is about every moment of our daily living exposing God to each other; to give voice to God. God does not measure out His gift of the Spirit. He relies on our individual, unique abilities to bring Him into the room, into our home, into every conversation. Pope Francis said, “One feature of the great saints is that they know how to step back in order to leave room completely for God. This stepping back . . . is the mark of the Spirit . . . because He is completely Love, illuminating the image of the Son, and in Him, that of the Father.”
Jesus tells us directly and distinctly, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” God established a covenant of intimacy and love with the human family and the Eucharist is our meal during which God’s hungry creation is fed with His love outpoured. Our hunger is real and this Gift is for ever. It is only through the Eucharist that we are sustained in God’s love. It is this sustenance which offers us the ability to go and bear fruit that will last.
As we approach graduations, or move from one grade to another, or reflect upon our many achievements, let us put our focus back on God. Let us make room for God. Let us pray individually and together that our very living is holy in His sight. Let us pray that when people think of us that they know the face of God. Let us pray for all our graduates that they go and bear fruit that will last.