At the very beginning of time, when God looked on everything he had made, he judged it to be “very good”. And at the centre of his creation was man and woman: strong, fertile, and bursting with the instruction to be fruitful and fill the earth.
But then before you know it Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Sin and death entered the world, darkening the splendour of creation and infecting its glory with sin. The sweet, abundant fruit that should have been borne became bitter and scant.
In horticulture, when a plant is susceptible to disease or too tender to withstand certain climatic conditions, it can be grafted onto a hardier stock. The resulting plant then bears the fruit of the tender stock, while remaining resistant to heat, cold, disease, and pests. For example, a hardy orange tree that bears sour fruit may have sweet oranges grafted on and bear good fruit for years to come.
But eventually the sour fruit of the rootstock will reassert itself. So when we fell from grace, God didn’t graft desirable qualities from one person onto the suitable bits of another. God knows that eventually the sour fruit of the rootstock would re-emerge. Rather he ordained a whole new creation and sent his Son into the world to make us into that new creation. In Christ, we have the potential to bear good, sweet, godly fruit all our lives.
So, how does this happen? Well, Our Lord gives the answer in today’s gospel: Come to me, listen to my words, and act on them. When we come to Our Lord in prayer and in our daily Mass, we engage in the deepest dialogue with him. And as with any other conversation, part of our conversation with Our Lord should include listening to him. After all, he wants to speak to us. He wants to tell us about his Father, about ourselves, about his hopes and plans for our lives and the world. But most of all, he wants to convince us that as we do what he says, we will be able to stand firm, bearing the fruit of the kingdom of God all the days of our lives.