For every tree is known by its own fruit. Luke 6:44
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. -Mother Teresa
This quote from Mother Teresa is not her exact words. They are a paraphrase of a longer answer she gave when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Nonetheless, the idea is there, simplified for those of us that make things more complicated than they need to be.
We are each given a shot at this thing called legacy. What will we do, what will we leave behind. For those of us whom God has graced with children, they are the fruit from our tree, the produce. They can be the best of us or the worst of us. And while we cannot control their ultimate destiny, we can control the space they occupy while they are with us by what we say, what we do and how we love.
Children are the tender fruit growing on that tree that Jesus is talking about. We as parents are that tree. Many times, we are approached by others and judged by the way our children behave, what they say and do.
Has what we taught them been heard? Is the tree producing good fruit?
Yesterday as I drove my children to school, my littlest was talking about her Valentine’s Day experience. The school was selling Valentine’s Day grams to raise money, and those grams could be sent to anyone within the school. I had asked her who she planned on spending the money on and giving them too, and she was filled with joy talking about the three friends in her class that would receive her token of love. She, like many other young children, only see within their circle I thought.
But I still wait and see if my tree produces good fruit.
Coming home after an exhausting day of work, I was looking forward to hearing how their day went. I figured the usual candy, cards and pencils. Common conversations. Until the story.
The littlest came beaming up to me.
“Mommy”, she said with a wide grin. “I took one of my dollars and spent it on the lunch lady. The one at the cash register. I bought her a Valentine’s gram and gave it to her. I knew every one would forget her, so I didn’t. Mommy, she was so happy.”
I was immovable.
“How do you know she was happy?” I asked her.
“Because I know, “ She said. “No one else remembered her. But I did.”
I cannot tell you in words the feeling that I had in the confines of my soul. The lessons, the rants, the arguments. The no television on Sundays. The mass requirements. The good and bad homilies. The wiggling rosaries. It all flashed through my mind, all of it.
There is nothing else I want my kids to be but Him. And He is the God of the forgotten.
Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15-16
If you are asking yourself if it is worth it-it is. Trees start as seeds and grow and soon the fruit of our children will drop seeds that produce other trees, the cycle of nature is endless. Where and how are we planting trees? What will be your legacy? What will be theirs?
We are known to God and loved by Him and are expected to bear that fruit in the world. Jesus did not come for the righteous, He came for sinners wanting repentance, those who recognize that they are spiritually unhealthy, in need of the divine doctor. Those that recognize the condition of their souls.
The work, the work is hard but the rewards are endless. A human soul recognized and loved is the greatest gift to God.
We would all do well to follow the lead of my littlest
Today, find the least among you, someone unrecognized, and recognize them in some kind way. Think of who you interact with or pass everyday that may not be recognized in the way that they should be. Be God with skin on, the God of the forgotten.
Show me whose life I can improve today, someone who I pass by and do not recognize. Let me show them kindness and love in the way that you tell me and move my heart to do so. Let it be divine, agape love that moves their heart and causes them to also produce Christ’s fruit.
In Jesus Name,