Is Your Tree Sick or Dying?
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2022
This is a picture of the mountain ash that used to be in the rectory backyard. At one time, this tree held so many red berries in the fall that whole flocks of robins would descend on it. But slowly the leaves got thinner, the berries less and less, almost unnoticeable at first. At last the crown began dying (see picture above). What was once healthy and gorgeous became firewood and another tree has now taken its place.
Long before this rot became visible, no doubt the tree was quite sick, though not yet visibly so. This can be a metaphor for our spiritual lives on earth. If we do not take care of our body and soul, sooner or later the untreated disorder/sin that lies within us will become more and more visible, like this tree. I was reminded of a scripture from the book of Revelation (3:1-3) when I meditated on this:
“Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know all about you: how you appear to be alive and yet are dead. Wake up! Revive what little you have left: it is dying fast...repent! If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, without telling you at what hour to expect me.”
In this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 12:32-48), Jesus advises us that we are all in his employment, and he is likely to call us to account at a time we are not expecting, like a thief in the night. Are there any parts of your “tree” that may be sick or even dying? Are you even aware of the spiritual sicknesses you may have? We all know we need exercise, but what about the soul? The Lord wants to apply remedies to fix these illnesses: a good confession, the other sacraments, repentance, taking care in what we view, dealing with chronic sins, more selflessness in our lives. Sometimes radical pruning of bad habits and sins may be necessary. But the Lord loves us and will do everything to save the tree that is our soul before he will come suddenly as he promised to evaluate our work. By examining our lives on a regular basis in the light of the gospel and the church, we will not be caught by surprise with a sick or dying tree.