Fertility and sterility

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

NO, this piece is not about human reproduction. This is about our great need to be vitally united to Christ, like branches to the vine, if we are to be fertile and fruitful, not only in our own personal spiritual life but also in our apostolate which is inseparable in our pursuit for personal sanctity. Otherwise, the only thing we can expect is sterility, no matter how much we try to be fruitful and productive.

I suppose we are familiar with that parable about the vine and branches. (cfr. Jn 15,1-8) It’s important that we remind ourselves that we are branches that need to be united to the vine. We cannot think of ourselves as if we are just on our own, or that everything depends on us, that things begin and end with us.

No, sir! We need to be united to the vine who is Christ, the God made man who is the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity. We have to be constantly aware of this fundamental truth about ourselves, a truth that we have to continually affirm, live out and reinforce, given our condition here on earth that is prone to all sorts of things that tend to deny that truth precisely.

We have our own personal weaknesses that already are a formidable enemy to contend with. We tend to be lazy, to be worldly, to be sensual that desensitizes us from the spiritual and supernatural dimensions of our life. As a consequence, we often fall into the varied forms of pride and vanity, greed, envy, etc. With these we can get the sensation that we are ok and are doing great when, in fact, the opposite is true.

As the gospel would summarize it, we have to contend with the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. We should never ignore or even take for granted these weaknesses. Rather we have to take the necessary precautionary measures.

Besides, we also have to contend with the many allurements of the world that give us sweet poisons. Plus, of course, there is the devil, the ever scheming and conspiring evil spirit who will always hover around us like flies around some rotting carcass.

A quick study of the lives of many saints can easily lend credence to this great need of ours to be vitally united to Christ if we are to be fertile and fruitful. Though many of them were isolated, ostracized, persecuted, imprisoned, martyred, etc., the fruitfulness of their personal sanctification and apostolate cannot be denied. The lives and missionary fruitfulness of the apostles, like Peter and Paul, can readily attest to this.

We can compare their lives with those who can be considered as false teachers in the sense that they can appear to be fruitful also, but in the end, since they were not vitally united with Christ, that fruitfulness was actually a mirage.

In the Acts of the Apostles (5,34-38) we are given a sample of these false teachers who managed to attract many followers but their ‘missionary work’ could not hold water for long.

A certain Pharisee, Gamaliel, cited the cases of two false teachers, Theudas and Judas the Galilean, who had a big following, but when they were killed, these followers were dispersed, and everything they did came to nothing.

He gave this piece of advice to those who were persecuting the apostles: “Leave these men alone! Let them go, for if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.” And up to now, the fruitfulness of the work of these apostles continues despite tremendous difficulties.

We truly need to be vitally united to Christ, like branches to the vine, to be fertile and fruitful!

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com