Of Providence And Fruits

Of Providence And Fruits

This Sunday’s collect tells us that God’s providence never fails in its disposal of events. Never. Ever. From our very limited perspective, we might sometimes get the impression that something has gone wrong up there, that things should not be as they are. In those moments we need to remind ourselves of this oration and renew our faith that whatever God allows to happen — and this means absolutely everything that does happen — He does so for our conversion, sanctification and salvation.

How many souls already in Heaven owe their salvation to what seemed, on the spur of the moment, a sad or tragic event! Without it, they would never have turned to God, and they would have remained and died in their sin, and they would now be in hell.

The liturgy of this Sunday also speaks to us of fruit. In the Gospel, Our Lords puts us on our guard agains false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but are actually ravenous wolves. “By their fruits you shall know them”. In the Epistle, St Paul reminds the Romans that they derived no fruit whatsoever from the days when they pursued the interests of the flesh. The flesh, of itself, only produces illness and death. There can be no lasting fulfilment there.

Reading those words and reflecting upon many of the debates going on at the moment, one can only feel pity for those who give their lives to what we might call the culture of the flesh. All the demands for absolute licence in the moral realm are resumed in love for and even worship of the flesh. Whether it be about contraception, abortion, sodomy, transgenderism, euthanasia, etc. — all debates that shake our society to its very foundations — it’s always about the flesh, about my body and what I do with it. It’s all about me. I do whatever I want with my body, and nobody has any say about it. Period.

It’s a pity that the countless souls ensnared in this vicious outlook on life do not take to heart those brief words of the apostle: you have lived long enough for the flesh, so STOP, because the flesh only ends in vice, in disease, in death, in rottenness, in despair. The fruit of the flesh is dark death and eternal misery. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21).

So humble yourself before God, lift up your heart on high and get out of that dark hole you have dug for yourself! God wants your happiness and fulfilment infinitely more than you do! But He wants your WHOLE fulfilment, body and soul. If you produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is “charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity (Gal 5:22-23), then you will not only reap peace of heart in this life, but you will also inherit eternal life.

And this is where we see the link with providence: the provident one is the person who foresees from afar the true good, the fruit that lasts, and in order to make that true good a reality, he uses the present moment in a wise, prudent, virtuous way. It is by the practice of the virtues, in particular by pursuing a chaste life, that one takes part in the providence of God, that one becomes provident in turn. Then it is that one can begin to see God in events and in people: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mat 5:8).