The other day, my sweet hubby offered to go to the grocery store and grab a few things after work. He requested that I make him a (uhem, SHORT) list. In addition to milk and eggs, he wanted me to see what light bulbs we needed so he could get those too. You see, over the course of a year or so, we’ve had several bulbs go out and we just neglected to tend to them. We said, “We’ll get to that later…”
So, I went through the whole house and made a list. Results? Seventeen. S-E-V-E-N-T-E-E-N! (My poor dad will be horrified to read this, I’m sure…) Between bathrooms, bedrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, living room, and even the refrigerator, seventeen bulbs were out. One here, one there, and we were living in darkness. Goodness gracious.
I would not have guessed that we had a whopping seventeen burned-out bulbs in our home. But, over time, one became two…two became ten…ten became seventeen…and we didn’t even really notice.
Sometimes the darkness of sin creeps up on us in just the same way...one here, ten there and we hardly notice over time. Sin rejects God’s plan for us. It robs us of the peace that God so desperately desires for us. Sin fills our life with chaos and anxiety. How can we possibly stay on the right path with so many distractions and temptations lurking at every corner? Fruit. What?! Yep. Sin sneaks in when we reject the fruit…that is, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Hmmm…fruits of the Holy Spirit. What in the world is that anyhow? If we wipe away the cobwebs from our gray matter, we might remember learning about the fruits of the Holy Spirit during our Confirmation preparation. Yes? Maybe? Nope. I needed a review as well, so let’s take a shot at it.
Our priest, Father Bentil, actually spoke about the fruits of the Holy Spirit during Mass this past weekend so it was perfect timing for me. He encouraged us to greet each other with, “May you have a fruitful Lenten season,” and so he explained that greeting in a bit more detail.
Father Bentil shared that if we are allowing the Holy Spirit to thrive within us, then we will be producing these spiritual fruits. These fruits will enable us to become more and more like Jesus. God’s purpose will become our purpose. Spiritual fruit will be evident in our lives as we change and transform. People will notice. We will notice too.
What are some of the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Father Bentil quoted Galatians 5:22-23 during his homily. “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Matthew Kelly also has some beautiful reflections on these fruits in his “Decision Point” Confirmation program:
- LOVE – To love God above all things and to love others as God calls us to. (I strongly feel that love isn’t number one on this list by chance…)
- JOY – This is more than just being happy and full of cheer. Joy is a feeling deep within that is awakened by the expectation of good things. Joy can be found even when things don’t go our way. (Remember the apostle Paul who wrote letters of joy while in prison? That’s right…prison!)
- PEACE – The calm tranquility that is present when we follow God.
- PATIENCE/FORBEARANCE – Enables us to endure our challenges, inconveniences, and difficulties without complaining.
- KINDNESS – Concern and compassion for others in need.
- GOODNESS – Doing what is good, honest, and right in every circumstance.
- FAITHFULNESS – Being reliable and trustworthy.
- GENTLENESS – As Father Bentil said, “Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is gentle?” I could not agree more. Those who are gentle are mild in speech, temperament, and behavior and they treat others with tenderness.
- SELF-CONTROL – Taking control of our desires so that we can focus on what is good and right.
There is a great analogy that came to my mind as I was thinking about these fruits of the Holy Spirit. On Valentine’s Day, the high school students in our school district sold carnations as a fundraiser. I bought some and had them delivered to my children. My little ones were surprised and excited about receiving their flower from us. My 11-year-old son thought the flower was cool, but thought it would be even cooler to put his white carnation in a jar with water and lots of blue food coloring. So, that’s just what he did when he got home.
After a few days, the carnation’s petal edges began to turn blue. After a couple of weeks, the blue color became darker and darker as the flower soaked up more and more of the food coloring.
Isn’t it the same for us? As we soak up more and more of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to flourish in our lives, the fruits will become more and more obvious. We won’t be able to hide these fruits as we allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely through us and shine for all to see.
As Matthew Kelly explains, “You may not know it yet, but these are the things you want. You want these fruits more than anything else you have ever wanted. In fact, every yearning you have is for these things. We try to substitute other things for them, but it never works.”
Here’s to allowing the Holy Spirit IN and letting the fruits OUT.