HOMILY for Wed 12th Week OT (II)
Figs and grapes are cultivated plants. They require the care and attention of a gardener. For untended, the ground ‘naturally’ produces only thorns and thistles. Sheep require the care and attention of a shepherd. For left to their own devices, they ‘naturally’ stray off the narrow path and on to wide plains where they can be scattered and the weak are picked off by wolves.
With these images, Christ comes to the final section of the Sermon on the Mount. Its wisdom teaches us that we need to submit ourselves to God’s tender care and attention if we’re to be fruitful. For he, the divine Gardener desires to cultivate our heart so that we produce sweet and attractive fruit. As St Paul said: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. But without his grace, our fallen human nature produces only the thorns of sin and the thistles of pride. So, we also need to listen to the voice of the divine Shepherd who calls us on the path that leads through the “narrow gate”. We might recall from yesterday’s Gospel, that this path is “hard”, but it leads to life.
How do we listen to Christ’s voice, and when are our hearts tended and cultivated?