Order: “Live in newness of Life.” (Rom:4b)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,” (John 16:5). Christ is the vine and we, his followers, are the branches. Our fruitfulness is determined not only by our connection to Jesus, but by the quality and authenticity of our relationship with him. We validate this thru our Community Word for the month of July which states – True disciples of Christ bear much fruits. The weekly themes and bible promises (verses) for the 13th to the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time challenge us to “live in newness of life” (Rom 6:4b) by walking in the Spirit, guided by God’s word and equipped with unwavering faith to grow in the likeness of Christ throughout our lifetime.
The services we render in the Lord’s vineyard would have no meaning if they are not rooted in our love and intimate relationship with Jesus. A lifetime of good works cannot be purposeful and fruitful unless these are done in loving devotion to him. This is the theme for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – We bear much fruit when our relationship with Jesus is the focal point of our lives. Our Lord wants us to share the love we have experienced with him to others. Many may not appreciate or notice your work, or you might get rejected. But if your mission is motivated by your zeal for God you should never be discouraged. The promise of Jesus this week from Matthew 10:40 – “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me,” will give us strength to persevere in bringing Christ to those we encounter in our faith journey.
The theme for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We bear much fruit when we surrender to God’s ways. One way to show that we truly love God is our act of obedience and submission to His holy will. He is absolutely perfect in all things and He knows our potentials, capabilities and our limitations better than us. We need to completely surrender every area of our lives to Christ to optimize our fruitfulness. We have to give our all to Jesus, not only our plans and aspirations, but including our trails and pains that we experience while serving his people. Our encouragement comes from his promise this week – “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Mt 11:28).
The theme for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time is – We bear much fruit when our hearts become rich soil for the word of God. A seed in order to grow and bear fruit needs to be sown in fertile soil. It is the same with the word of God; to work in our life, it should be nurtured in a receptive heart. A heart devoid of rocks of pride, weeds of selfishness, and thorns of worries is open to “hear and heed” the Holy Scriptures, the word of truth. This is a life spent in sowing salvation and bringing compassion and healing to others. A heart nourished in God’s word becomes an instrument in making others realize this promise – “My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Is 55:11b). Truly, God’s word never fails.
For the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the theme is – We bear much fruit when our works of faith prosper the Kingdom of God. Living out God’s purpose in our lives means fulfilling the great plan of building His kingdom on earth. The many blessings we receive and the good things that happen to us while working to prosper His kingdom manifest the Lord’s glory and what He has prepared for us in heaven. For others, there may be doubts and questions if we are going make it, to overcome challenges and become successful in our ways. The answer is expressed in the promise this week from Matthew 12:43 – “The righteousness will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” There is no defeat, only victory for those who labor in the kingdom of God, seeking God first and following His teachings in the path of holiness.
Finally, for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the theme is – We bear much fruit when we desire the kingdom of heaven as our treasured possession. The kingdom of heaven is a priceless treasure to be desired above all else. Many of us have searched diligently for the kingdom of God before we found Jesus, our Savior. We struggle to get rid of anything that would hinder the reign or our Lord and King, and enable the power of His Spirit to lead and mold us. Still, there are times that we would falter and fall short of His glory. But St. Paul encourages us not to lose heart. He gives this promise – All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” (Rom 8:28). As we experience trials and pains in the process of renewing our minds and souls, the Holy Spirit will renew His gifts in us and make us fruitful followers of Christ. And as we yearn to love God, all that we do for His greater glory will bring us closer to Him and be with Him finally in eternity.