(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. The Word is meant to be heard.)
For the last few weeks, we have heard our call to be prophets for God. We are called to speak and act the Word of God into the world. This seems like a big work. Huge. How are we supposed to know what to do? How are we supposed to know what to say? How can we possibly be good enough to do this? At the end of the Gospel for this Sunday—a Gospel passage full of parables—Jesus says something that might help us.
it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Abundance, we know, is more than enough—a cup so full, it overflows. Last week, we thought about the mercy of God this way. God is so merciful, so full of mercy, that mercy overflows into the world. This is the way God loves. This is the way God gives. Enough and more than enough. Abundance.
Out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth speaks. What is our abundance? What is it that we store inside of ourselves, so much that it bubbles up and out? What do we treasure so deeply that it overflows into our speech?
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil
Good treasure. Evil treasure. What is this? Treasure is something we hold most valuable. What makes it good or evil?
When we think of treasure, we cannot help but think of treasure chests full of gold and jewels, pearls and coins. But where did the treasure come from? If it is a pirate chest, then we know that the treasure that has been stolen or taken by force. We can be pretty sure that this is evil treasure. Someone has been hurt so that we can have it.
Treasure can also make us think of a memory box holding special greeting cards and old photographs. A parent might keep a drawing given to her by her child. A child might keep a rosary given to him at his First Communion. Each item has little worldly value—no one is going to sell the box of memories for money—but we would not trade them for the world. Each item is treasure because it reminds us of laughter, of family, of friends. We treasure the love, the peace, the joy. We are certain that this is good treasure. We are better because of it. Each item is gift.
Treasure is whatever we hold most valuable. It is good when we realize that it is gift.
Jesus speaks of good people and good treasure, evil people and evil treasure. There is a good chance that inside each of us, we have stored up some of each kind of treasure. If we are honest, we can probably name some things we treasure that are not gift. We may secretly delight in the suffering of someone else—when that kid in our class who thinks they are so perfect looks ridiculous getting an answer wrong. We may take secret pleasure in hating someone, in being annoyed at every little thing they do. We may secretly think we are better than other people, that we deserve more than they do, that we are loved by God more than they are. If we are honest, we can admit to holding these things close to our heart, to storing up some evil treasure. Does that mean we are evil people?
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
No good tree bears bad fruit. Remember, we identify the evil treasure inside of us if we are honest—if we are good. We can find the evil treasure because we are good. We are good trees, planted by God. There may be some treasure within us that is really just trash—God will help us drag it to the curb. Our fruit, though, is good, because we are good trees.
What is our fruit? What is Jesus talking about? The fruit of a tree grows naturally out of its life. A tree does not have to decide what kind of fruit to grow. The more life within it, the more fruit is produced. If the life within us is the life of God—we are trees planted by God after all—then the Spirit of God produces the fruit.
We are known by our fruit. We are known by our gentleness, our goodness, our kindness. We are known by our faithfulness, our patience, our generosity. We are known by our love, our peace, our joy—those same things we treasure. We do not decide on what kind of fruit to grow; it grows out of the life within us. It is gift to the world. It is treasure.
We treasure this life. We treasure the fruit that is a sign of the Spirit acting within us. This is how we are prophets. We treasure what is good. And out of the abundance we have been given, out of the abundance of good treasure, out of the abundance of our good heart, we speak love, peace, and joy into the world.