"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.”
- St. Matthew 7:15-20
Whenever I read our Lord’s words which tell of the good tree bearing good fruit, my thoughts invariable return to the apple trees which had been planted on our family’s Connecticut farm. What care had been lavished on them, and what marvelous fruit they produced! The care continued for a while...but first one year’s pruning was missed, and then another; soon the apples were smaller and fewer. Over the years, neglect took its toll, until today there is nothing left but a few rotted stumps where countless bushels of apples once were harvested. Our Lord’s point is clear: what is true for trees is true for people. If we take care to prune away the things which keep us from God, and are fed with the spiritual food of the Sacraments, we will produce the good fruits of the Spirit; but if we neglect the spiritual care which is essential to our health and growth, we will be no more than a rotting stump, producing nothing.