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June 18, 2023: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the backyard of the house where I live with other priests, there is a lemon tree which produces a huge amount of fruit. One evening in the spring I needed some lemons for a chicken dish. I glanced from the kitchen and saw the tree bursting with large, bright, gorgeous lemons, hanging thick on seemingly every branch. Turning to Fr. Bob (I’ll change his name to protect the innocent) who sat on the couch, I said, “Father, could you pick a few lemons for me?” He said sure and into the backyard he went. He returned a few minutes later empty-handed. “John, there’s no lemons. Sorry.” I said, “What are you talking about?” I looked again and saw the grapefruit tree on the other side of the yard, which had recently been picked clean of fruit. He didn’t see the abundant fruit because he was looking in the wrong place!

Like Fr. Bob, we sadly don’t see the fruit all around us. We think that the culture is spiraling down, young people avoid church, and the future looks bleak. Why go out into the world and work? The world looks like a fruitless tree.

Jesus doesn’t see things that way. This week he tells us, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” Look again: there is spiritual fruit hanging all around us! The lonely ready to be visited. The sick ready to be healed. The forgotten ready to be remembered. The poor ready to be treated with dignity. The sad ready to be consoled. The young ready for the Gospel. So, let’s ask the Lord to send laborers to get to work. And he will. He might send you and me. Just remember to look at the correct trees.

— Father John Muir



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