Putting down roots, bringing forth fruit, and spreading new seed: that was what it was all about in the divine service with which the Chief Apostle surprised the congregation of Kinshasa-Matete in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The people of Israel were under siege by the enemy. So it was that King Hezekiah turned to the Lord in prayer. The answer that he received through the prophet Isaiah was as follows: “And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (Isaiah 37: 31). This passage was the foundation for the divine service on 19 July 2023.
The word in the here and now
“We are not dealing with human beings here,” said the Chief Apostle. “Our enemy is not man. It is the devil.” The latter endeavours to tempt us by saying:
- “Do not trust God. Accept me as your master. Do what I tell you and you will see: you will have a good life.”
- “Rely on yourself. Instead of going to church and following your God, just take care of yourself.”
- “Do not shy away from sin. Do not hesitate to lie, to steal, and to cheat. Then you will have the same as everyone else.”
- “Just look at these Apostles—they are all imperfect. Do you really think that they can save you? Go somewhere else. Go somewhere where they perform miracles.”
“It is normal for thoughts such as these to come to us,” said the Chief Apostle by way of consolation. “The important thing is that we have the right reaction, just like King Hezekiah, namely that we go to the temple and tell God what is going on.” This can take the form of a prayer or a pastoral care discussion with ministers. God will answer: “Trust Me. Stay with Me. I am the Almighty. I am your Saviour. Stay with the Apostle. Stay with the Chief Apostle. I promise you that I am with them, and that you too will attain salvation through them.”
Those who believe will grow roots
“The roots of a plant first of all allow the plant to be anchored in the ground and not to fly away when there is a wind,” explained the Chief Apostle. “And it is through the roots that the plant takes its food.” The roots of faith allow us to remain faithful. “If we allow ourselves to be taught by the Holy Spirit and the apostolate, we will put down deeper and deeper roots. Our faith will become deeper.” The Chief Apostle reminded his listeners what the believers firmly believe:
- “We believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God.”
- “We believe that He died and resurrected in order to bring us eternal life and not in order to improve our lives on earth.”
- “We go to church so that we can enter into the kingdom of God, in order to have eternal life, and in order to be with Jesus forever.”
- “We believe that the apostolate was sent by Jesus Christ in order bring us salvation.”
- “Jesus is coming soon, no matter what the devil does.”
“When the wind comes, we remain firm. We do not retreat,” said the Chief Apostle as he described the roots of faith.
Then the international Church leader went on to describe the function of the roots to nourish the plant. This is the root of love. Here too, the Holy Spirit allows us to experience the depth of Christ’s love. “Jesus Christ is with you and with me every day, and He helps me,” recalled the Chief Apostle. “I love Him because of what He did for me while He was on earth, because of what He still does for me today, and because of what He has promised to do for me.” This gives us the strength to serve Jesus. “This love for Jesus nourishes us and gives us the strength to gradually change and become more and more like Jesus.”
Those who believe will bring forth fruit
“We cannot see the roots,” said the Chief Apostle. “Brother, sister, I cannot see the depth of your faith, the depth of your love,” but: “the fruits are something that everyone can see.”
Fruit is an image for our behaviour and spiritual development. “Those who remain faithful to the apostolate will bear fruit. There will be a visible change in their behaviour” For example, “they will no longer react the same way when they are attacked.”
Fruits create nourishment. “These fruits are services that we can perform for our brother and our sister.” These fruits could take the form of prayer, comfort, reassurance, encouragement, or care.
“And within the fruit there is also the seed that ensures ongoing development.” The believers will also prepare the way for the future of God’s work. “Through their behaviour, they proclaim the gospel and bear witness. And through their testimony and behaviour they attract new souls to the work of God. The parents bring fruit and inspire their children to remain faithful to God.”