Last Wednesday, after Household Inductions, I walked outside; I was going to wait for Jacob, so that we could talk and pray. It was probably about eleven at night, and very peaceful. There was this epic, huge tree, so I decided to lie down underneath it and relax while I waited. As I lay underneath the tree, I really looked at the way that the branches intertwined, to create a beautiful shelter for me. So many branches intertwined, and off of these branches, smaller branches grew. Off of these branches, more branches sprouted, and at the end, leaves grew. There were small patches where I could see the starry sky, but otherwise, the branches made a beautiful covering.
Or, in this case, God is the tree trunk, and we are the branches.
The tree trunk is strong and sturdy. And coming off of it are larger branches. Off of these branches come more branches; more branches come off of those, etc. The Apostles learned from Jesus Christ, and attached their lives to His life—they are like the bigger branches of the tree, which directly come off of the trunk. The smaller branches that come off of these main branches are the people that the Apostles evangelized to, and brought to the Faith. These people went out, and brought others to the Faith—the small branches that come off of them. And it keeps going—the tree keeps growing, and the intertwining branches create a beautiful landmark and shelter of Truth.
Now, what happens when a branch is cut off of the tree? The branches that were offshoots of it are no longer on the tree, and there is a bare space in the branches. When a branch is cut off, it can no longer grow and support further branches on the tree. When a person alienates themself from God and the Faith, he rejects his responsibility and honor of bringing others to God. He cuts himself off from helping other branches to grow off of him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be connected to God, living a life of Faith. Not only that, but his witness affects others. When a person has evangelized to others and brought them to the Faith, and then this person completely rejects the Faith, it is tragic. The people that came to the Faith through that person will hopefully stay with the Faith, and live for God. However, the actions of the person affect others, and people can reject the Faith due to a bad witness that they see. If I, AnneMarie, bring Tom, Susie, and Harry to God, to a life in Christ, that’s awesome! But then I decide to go crazy, and I completely reject God and His truths. Tom, Susie, and Harry see my behavior, and my terrible witness. They see how I was not faithful to the life that I brought them to, and they don’t think the Faith is a big deal. So, Tom, Susie, and Harry all reject the Faith, too. Thus leaving a huge empty space in the covering of the tree.
We all affect others around us, whether or not we’re aware of it. The encounters that we have—whether we talk to someone, or whether they simply see us—have a huge impact. We should always strive to “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words,” just as St. Francis of Assisi did! That way, we can all be flourishing branches on the base of Jesus Christ, and bring all others that we encounter to Him!