“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
Do you struggle to overcome habitual sins? Do you feel ashamed of returning to the sacrament of confession for the same sins? Have you tried your best, and it appears “your best” isn’t working? Consider this: Is it possible to pluck oranges from mango trees? If you want oranges, why plant mangoes? This is what Jesus teaches us in today’s Gospel passage.
Our actions, like fruits, are the consequences of the tree that grows in us (our thoughts and desires). Do you want your life to produce good fruits? Start by sincerely examining your conscience. To pull out a tree, you must acknowledge its presence. Sometimes, we judge others, yet when faced with the same temptations, we do worse than those we condemn.
St. Paul always examined his conscience. This is why he wrote: “I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do… For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see another law at war with the law of my mind in my members…” (Romans 7:18-23). In today’s first reading, St. Paul declared himself the worst of sinners.
The second step is to cut down the bad trees. This step is painful but necessary. We cannot wish our bad habits away. We cannot even pray them away. We must discipline ourselves by learning new habits. Learning a new habit is hard – doing something you don’t feel like doing until it becomes part of you.
The third step is to plant new trees, that is, by planting seeds of good thoughts. Thoughts are powerful; they keep you going when your flesh craves its old habits. Jesus said that we become corrupt from the heart (our thoughts). It is not what they eat that defile a person but the thoughts in their heart. (Cf. Matthew 15:17-20).
What kind of thoughts should occupy your mind? St. Paul says: “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, fill my heart with divine treasures. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Timothy 1:15-17, Ps. 113:1-7, Luke 6:43-49).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu