Today we honour the memory of Saint John Paul II, whom we all knew and some of us had met. Without doubt Pope John Paul’s teaching and example led many to faith. His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world. Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich Magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as the Code of Canon Law. He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014 and his feast falls on the anniversary of his election to the papacy. History will remember him as one of the great popes of our time, if not of all time. Today we ask his intercession and protection for the Church.
You may have read about the gardener in Chile who has cultivated a tree that grows apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, and nectarines: all on the same plant, and which has been called the Fruit Cocktail Tree. The orchard owner we meet in today’s Gospel would have been astonished to ever see such a tree, especially since his own fig tree was struggling to produce any fruit at all.
Now, fruit cocktail trees don’t grow naturally. Gardeners develop them by grafting branches from different species into a host tree. The host tree’s sap then flows into all the limbs, old and new alike, nourishing them all and eventually producing a medley of fruits.
Now, if you think about it, this isn’t all that different from the way God grafts his own spiritual fruits into our hearts; and the sap we need to bear this harvest comes from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like the patient gardener in today’s Gospel: the man who offered to personally care for the owner’s failing fig tree. God’s grace allows us to grow a supernatural yield of different fruits.
It may now be Autumn, but this year’s growing season is far from over, and we still have time to identify at least one spiritual fruit that we would especially like to cultivate in our lives this year. May we all have the courage to prepare our hearts in order for such fruit to grow and flourish. Like a gardener we need to break up the soil of our heart, which involves hard work, then plant the seed, water it, care for it, and patiently wait for it to bear fruit.