Trees and Their Fruit


            We may be fifty-nine hundred miles away, but my American roommate and I are well aware of what’s going on back home in the U.S.A. We are blessed to have access to news and current events at the drop of a hat. This has also been a bit of a curse. Meanwhile; here in the West Bank, Palestinians have unified for a day-long strike in general protest of the Israeli occupation as well as ongoing depopulation of their villages and cities in the surrounding area. I feel as if I can smell the tension in the air through closed windows.

            All of this has got me reflecting on a very memorable Bible passage. The author(s) of Matthew tell us in chapter twelve, verse thirty-three that Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” According to this passage, Jesus further explains his allegorical point when he says, “[…] for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” I would tend to regard words the same as actions in this circumstance, for actions and words both require thought and a personal decision. This passage may be an extreme oversimplification, giving the whole of humankind only two outcomes when all is said and done. One good and one bad. But isn’t that just Biblical?

            I would never presume that what is going on back home, what is going on here, nor anything in-between is either good or bad. But I will say that I am beginning to understand this parable in a new way. We, in this new technological age, have the ability to make our thoughts widely known in a matter of seconds. We speak and act quickly, sometimes with little or no predetermination. I have read some things that I truly believe were not thought out carefully enough. I have heard people say things that make me feel so passionate about issues to which I have no real connection. Then, in turn, I have felt the sudden urge to speak or act on that misguided passion. This passion may manifest itself as joy, rage, fear, and maybe even humor for some.

            This just seems as good a time as any to remember that some are heard more than others. Some are given, or have taken, the right to bear more fruit while others wither under the weight of heavier trees. But we ought to remember that, whatever the case, “the tree is known by its fruit.” If I had an answer for how to even the odds and give everyone a chance to be heard and believed equally. If I could give a prescription that suddenly fixed this global problem, I would. I don’t. None of us do. But you know what? Neither did Jesus.