In the Scripture readings, our actions are likened to a tree, and their outcomes to the fruit of that tree. (Matthew 12: 33). It can be very difficult for us at times to decide if we should act or wait. The right answer may not be obvious. It may take us a long time to see the result of our action and to understand if we had made a good or bad decision. Even with the best of intentions, we do make mistakes; our goals may be noble and our objectives right, but the outcome may still be the opposite of what we had expected.
Many people will claim that they want justice and truth, they will go to great lengths to open everybody’s eyes to the wrongs – real or perceived – that they may see happening. But ever so often, the result is equally disappointing to that person and to everybody else. Conversely, an event that seems unfavourable or undesirable at first may become a true life changer and a powerful stimulus to our growth and development. I hope that we all realise the importance of exercising caution and good sense in our responses to various events and the benefits of not rushing into conclusions or premature judgements.
We should also be prepared to learn from our mistakes, to be brave and humble enough to admit our missteps, and to acknowledge the pain that we have caused ourselves and others. We must have the humility and strength to say sorry, and to promise not to repeat the same mistake.
However, instead of being humble, we are often proud and obstinate. Even when we recognise - at least intuitively - that we were not completely right, we may still prefer to lay all the blame on others.
This is not to say that we should always wallow in our guilt, but only that we should be prepared to acknowledge our weaknesses, and to avoid rushing to judgement when something seems wrong and unfair. Our grumpy teammate, our boss who is always unhappy, or our spouse who annoys us all the time – all of these perceived nuisances may have been allowed by God to bring us closer to our salvation. How can we be sure that they are not our last chance? And if so, how can we afford to miss it?
Just like our individual actions, our lives, too, should bring good fruit, and we must work very hard for it. Imagine spending all your life growing something like a cypress tree – tall, with long fleshy leaves, but bearing no fruit! Or growing vegetables –cucumbers or tomatoes, and be rewarded with something less ambitious but tastier at the end. Our spiritual lives should also be fruitful. Some may set their goals very high, but most of us would do well if we managed not to hurt our neighbour, not to stand in their way, and not to make trouble for them.
May God save us all!
Priest Sergius Nezhbort
When the Pharisees met Christ, one of them asked, "Who is He?" "Son of Joseph," replied another. We like to believe that we know it all. We like to be confident and unshaken in our decisions and to be convincing to ourselves and others.