“Jesus said to his disciples:
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”” -Luke 6:43-45
Are we really good people? A few of my college professors often criticized St. Augustine for his negative view of humanity, for his strongly held belief that humans are full of sin, concupiscence and original sin (Augustine was among the first theologians to really detail the theology behind original sin). So, if we are born with original sin and if we are sinners all our lives, then are we really good people? Do we bear good fruit? Are we a good tree? Do we have a store of goodness in our hearts, or a store of evil?
I think it all depends on our roots. What are you rooted in? A tree, rooted in good and fertile soil that receives sunshine and a decent amount of rain will bear good fruit. Its no wonder that Scripture often talks about soil and trees in comparison to the human heart, the analogy has endless wisdom in it. Our hearts are the tree and we are called to root them in God. He, after all, is the BEST and MOST fertile soil. We receive endless Sonshine from Him, and He longs to shower us with His mercy that we would produce much fruit. [yes, those puns were fully intended and I’m laughing at the awesome wonder of God that He would make such puns so…fruitful. Ok, maybe I’ll stop now.]
But what happens when our hearts aren’t rooted in Him? What happens when we take our roots out of His rich soil and place them deep in…poop? Or, in sin? We suffer. We don’t grow, we don’t bear as much or any good fruit. Our roots become withered as they search in vain for fertile soil. Oh, but the glory of God shines even through poop. Yes, poop.
What do we use to make trees and plants grow? Fertilizer. And what is fertilizer made of? Poop. God, in His infinite goodness (and perhaps even His comedic genius) uses even our waste to grow. If He can make it so that even poop can be fertile, then He can certainly make it so that our sufferings, our sin can be fertile as well.
By no means am I saying that you should go out and sin to your little heart’s content saying that God can and will use your “poop” to grow your heart. Wrong. Father Chris Kirchgessner once said, “the only thing sin teaches us is how to sin more.” Don’t misread my point. We are human, and we are, at times, incredibly weak but the glory of our weakness is that God can and does use that to teach us, to return the roots of our hearts to His rich soil.
Archbishop Charles Chaput has a great quote about suffering and how it can be good for us, and I think the idea works as well for sin (read: poop). “Suffering can bend and break us. But it can also break us open to become the persons God intended us to be. It depends on what we do with the pain. If we offer it back to God, He will use it to do great things in us and through us, because suffering is fertile.” Sin can bend and break us, but it can also be used to break us open to become who God wants us to be. It all depends on what we do with the pain, with the sin, with our poopiness. If we offer it back to God, if we come before Him with humbled and contrite hearts He will use it to do great things in us and through us, because poop is fertile. (Remember, sin isn’t fertile, it only cultivates more sin.)
So what are you doing with your poopiness? Are you going to let it sit and rot in the field of your heart? Or are you going to offer it to God and allow Him to turn it into fertilizer so that the roots of your heart may grow deeper in His love?
Lord, though we sin and take our hearts out of Your fertile soil, may we be granted the grace to turn back to Your love, to Your fertile soil, to the endless fields of Your rich mercy. We ask that you take our poop, take our sin and make it into fertilizer, for we know that all things are for Your glory (1 Peter 4:11). May Your glory shine, even through our human weakness. May our hearts, by Your grace and abundant fertilization be turned into radiant fields, glowing with Your rich harvest. AMEN.