12th Week Ord Time Intimacy with God and Christian works

12th Week of Ordinary Time: You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

By Francis Carvajal

3/102.2 Intimacy with God and Christian works.

Sound trees give good fruit. The tree is sound when the good sap flows through it. For the Christian, this is the life of Christ himself, personal holiness, and nothing else can take its place. We should never separate ourselves from him. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.[3800] When we are close to Jesus we become effective. We learn how to be joyful, to be understanding, and to love. In short, we learn how to be good Christians.

The life of union with Christ necessarily transcends the limited sphere of the individual – and this to the benefit of others. This is the source of apostolic fruitfulness: the apostolate, of whatever kind it be, must be an overflow of the interior life,[3801] of a life-giving union with Our Lord. This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful, chiefly obtained by active participation in the liturgy. Laymen should make such a use of these helps that, while meeting their human obligations in the ordinary conditions of life, they do not separate their union with Christ from their ordinary lives, but through the very carrying out of their everyday tasks, whose performance is God’s will for them, actually promote the growth of their union with him.[3802] Contact with Christ in Holy Communion, in the Mass (the true centre of the Christian life), in personal prayer and mortification which permit this contact with God, will show itself in the specific way we set about our daily work, in our dealings with others, whether they are believers or not, and in the way we carry out our civic and social duties. The sap is not seen, but the fruit certainly is. Christ should be seen in us in the way we behave, in our joy and serenity in the presence of sorrow and difficulties, in our readiness to forgive others. He will be seen in the demanding way we fulfil our duties and in our exemplary sobriety in making use of material goods; in our sincere gratitude for the help we are offered in the little things of daily life.

If we neglect this intimate union with God our apostolic effectiveness will be reduced to nothing in the lives of the people we habitually come into contact with. The fruits will become bitter, and unworthy of being laid before God. Saint Pius X declares: But among those who refuse or neglect ‘to consider in their heart’ (Jer 12:11), there are some who do not conceal the consequent sterility of their souls, but excuse themselves, offering as a reason that they are given entirely to the cares of ministry, to the manifold advantage of others. They are deceived miserably. For, unaccustomed to speak with God, they lack the divine fire when they speak to men about him, or impart the principles of Christian living, so that the gospel message seems to be lifeless in them.[3803] At best then it is not unusual for their advice to be merely common sense, with no supernatural content to it. They give their own doctrines instead of the Gospel doctrine. If we neglect personal piety, real intimacy with God, we shall not perform the deeds God expects from every Christian. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.[3804] If our heart is not in God how can we hand on the words and the life that come from him? Let us take a look at our prayer. Do we have a set time for it, and are we punctual? Do we really try to overcome distractions? Do we pray in the most suitable place? Do we ask Our Lady, Saint Joseph and our Guardian Angel to help us maintain a lively personal dialogue with God? Do we make at least one small resolution each day?

We can also examine our efforts to preserve presence of God while we are walking along the street, while at work and at home ... and we can be definite about what needs putting right or improving in our daily life. Let us make such a resolution. It does not matter if it is small, but it should be definite.

In Conversation With God

This reflection is one part of a three part meditation taken from "In Conversation with God." To learn more about this rich series of books, or to purchase the volume with this reflection, Click Here

[3800] John 15:5

[3801] St J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 239

[3802] Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam actuositatem, 4

[3803] St Pius X, Encyclical, Haerent animo, 4 August 1908

[3804] cf Luke 6:45