We had pluots with dinner tonight. My 2 year old loves them, but she can’t chew the skin very well, so I usually cut it off. Tonight I had forgotten to cut the skin off, and my arms were full of 16 pounds of smiles, so I bit it off. Only a mother’s love. After half a pluot’s worth of skin, my entire mouth and tongue were stinging and swollen, in an inordinate amount of pain, for at least 5 minutes. Tart is an understatement. How can the skin of this deliciously sweet, maybe slightly tart fruit, be so unpalatable on its own?
After the pain had subsided, I attempted to eat a piece of pluot again. Call me a glutton for punishment. It was delicious! Just as before, highly enjoyable. My wheels began turning once again.
There are similarities in faith in the Catholic Church. When we are young, we learn about Jesus present in the Eucharist, preparing for First Holy Communion. This is the essence of what separates us from every other faith in the world. It is the sweetest, richest part of our Faith, just like the flesh of the pluot. It is simple, beautiful, and incomprehensible, yet this is one of the first things we teach our children as they become participating members of the Church. Without this Truth, the Church would be just any other church.
Many come to the Feast without recognizing the fruit they will be tasting. They don’t see or know Jesus in the Eucharist, and they miss His sweetness. Instead, they see the other aspects of the Church that distract from the Truth – out-of-tune choirs, lackluster preaching, busybody gossipers, and sinful hypocrites. The external skin of the Church that can exist leaves a bitter taste in their mouth, leaving them longing for the sweetness, thinking it can’t exist beneath the imperfect surface, leaving them searching and wondering, abandoning the Faith they don’t fully grasp, not knowing what they will be missing. If my first taste of pluot was the skin, I wouldn’t be going back for seconds.
Despite ourselves, God has chosen His faithful to spread the Good News of His love to the world. By preaching the Truth of the Eucharist, the Church unfurls its branches and bears juicy fruit far and wide. If only they would believe it to be True. If only they would go deeper and taste the Fruit, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The hidden mysteries of God would begin to unfold and the bitter, tart skin could be accepted and eaten, because the goodness of God would outweigh any negative aspects.
“So be perfect,just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
However, it is also our responsibility, as His Faithful, to be perfect representatives of Christ here on earth, so those coming to the Feast won’t get a bitter taste in their mouth. Part of proclaiming the Gospel is how we live our lives, and we should strive to live an exemplary life, one that inspires and produces bountiful fruit.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) (emphasis added)