Have You Eaten From My Fruit?

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This morning I thought more about my encounter with the Greek Orthodox priest at his parish Church. He made quite a strong impression upon me. For someone who didn’t speak English that well he did a fantastic job at talking about the theology of St.John the Baptist and the significance of his witness.

I’d like to talk a bit more about the fruit he offered us. He had a big box of fresh fruit that he wanted everyone to take a piece of but nobody (myself included) wanted any. Why? Because there was so many sweet cakes on the table and we all preferred this over the fruit.

However, towards the end of the meeting when I felt it had all dissolved and it was time to go, he stood up and came over to me and handed me a massive bunch of fruit dipping it all in the Holy water before giving it to me. “Take the fruit” he cried, “take the fruit.” He politely walked me all the way to the gate with a massive bunch of fruit in my hand and we rejoiced at seeing one another next week.

In truth what happened was the devil kinda broke it up. One potential convert began complaining about Pope Francis and going on about the Latin Mass. Then two conversations were happening one between the priest and us and the man criticizing Pope Francis and some other person. I really can’t stand to listen to anyone criticize either Orthodox or Catholic clergy.

Whenever I hear or read a person criticizing their Orthodox Patriarch or their Catholic Pope I get nausea and I go into an angry rage inside of me that I simply have to remove myself from such a person. That is difficult because you know, I love the man I do, but it’s what speaking through him that I hate the most. For this reason I leave.

However we all went back to the car and everyone except me ate the fruit. My children and wife were glowing with happiness especially my ten year old son who absolutely screamed and said he loved it. Then I come home and the next morning I get up. I’ve some money to lodge at the bank but before going I open the TLIG messages randomly (I always do this with the Bible too) and ask the Lord to speak to me.

I open on the message of May 27th 1994 where Jesus says: “lean on me, daughter; do not allow the dead to draw you back to them; have you eaten from my fruit?” Then Vassula says, “Yes, I have eaten Your Words and they are Life”. I laughed when I read, “have you eaten from my fruit?” I suppose my answer would’ve been “No, but the wife and kids enjoyed it.”

It’s funny how at the table we all preferred what was pleasurable and found that which gives us Life (the fruits of the Holy Spirit) undesirable. In the spiritual life we are like children who don’t want to eat the good fruits of the Lord preferring the sweet pleasures of the flesh and the world around us. But once we taste the fruit, although its natural bitterness is at first difficult to engage with, after a while we begin to recognize its goodness and prefer it to the sweets.

Even to the natural body sweets destroy our teeth (my mouth full of fillings is evidence of this) and give us high cholesterol. It is the same with sin and the pleasures of the world which serve only to destroy our souls over time. Just as it takes time for the sugar to rot our teeth so it takes time for sin to destroy our souls. And that’s all that the Devil needs, time to destroy.

But with the fruits of the Holy spirit it likewise takes time for a person to transition from that sweetness that brings death, to the natural sweetness that brings life. I did not want the fruit, but we need people like Fr.Ioannis to come and put it in our hands and encourage us to eat the fruits of the Lord without which life cannot be possible. Because the priest stands in the place of Christ and is Christ in person, I saw Jesus coming to me with the fruit not the priest and saying, “Here, take some fruit.”

Even when we got back to the car I did not eat the fruit but I had great joy watching everyone else eat it for after they ate it there was lots of joy in them but still sadness in me. In hindsight, I should have eaten the fruit, right? This is why Jesus the next day, speaking to me through TLIG said, “have you eaten from my fruit?”

I’m certainly beginning to love the Byzantine adventure all over again. Your prayers please.

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