March 3, 2019 — Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings exhort us Christian disciples to form ourselves — mind and heart — in imitation of Christ so we can better reflect His goodness in our daily lives.
The first reading from Sirach offers timeless counsel: “the fruit of a tree shows the care it has had: so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind. Praise no one before he speaks.” Jesus uses the very same analogy in today’s Gospel reading from Luke. “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.” Jesus explains, “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good… for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Everything we have is a gift from God to be used for His honor and glory. This includes the gift of speech and, even more broadly, all forms of modern-day communication — email, text, Twitter, Facebook and the rest. What comes forth from our mouths, or keyboard, or phone, is a reflection of what is in our minds and hearts. Our ability to communicate with each other is itself a gift that we must steward well.
In the same Gospel passage, Jesus reminds us, “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” We must therefore be trained by Jesus our teacher so that our minds and hearts will be aligned with His mind and heart, and our speech (and actions for that matter) will reflect His goodness.
How do we obtain this training? Thankfully, we have an abundance of supernatural “training materials” at our disposal. First and foremost, we can spend time with the Teacher, our Lord: we can study His life through reading the Scriptures, and we can listen and speak with Him in quiet, regular times of prayer. We can expand our faith knowledge through study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We can find healing and strength in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Amazingly, we can partake of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
The more intentionally and frequently we make use of these means, the more we will become like our Teacher and Lord. Then, all that we do and say (and tweet and post) will bring others closer to Him. This is the life’s work of the Christian steward. It is privileged work indeed.