I found the reflection on the scripture readings for October 22nd, 2016 contained in the WORD AMONG US particularly instructive. The Gospel passage [Luke 13: 1-9] contained the parable of the fig tree. The authors of the WORD AMONG US focused on Luke 13: 8, “I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it”.
An interesting analogy was used to develop the theme of growing “spiritual fruit”. Apparently gardeners have developed what are called “cocktail trees”. These trees successfully grow multiple fruits. This is accomplished by grafting branches from different species on the host tree. The result is a medley of fruits produced by the one tree.
Consider that most of us have at least one spiritual fruit that has occurred in us naturally. That fruit will differ from person to person. It may be the fruit of kindness or patience or one or another of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. Then consider that God, through the action of the Holy Spirit and the grace provided to us, calls each of us to cooperate in the work of the Spirit who seeks, as we journey through life, to graft on to our souls additional fruits of the Holy Spirit. This equips us to more effectively be the hands, feet, voice and heart of Jesus.
The growing seasons for our spiritual fruit, during our lifetime, encompass the whole year since the cultivation, fertilization and growth is not confined to a particular time of the year. We do however need to be open to the grafting process undertaken by the Holy Spirit and to cooperate in allowing the Spirit to gradually produce as many fruits as possible commensurate with the character of God.
Perhaps a useful Advent process for us is to identify which of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit we currently produce. The level of production at this point is not as important as the fact that we currently produce the fruit. As the Spirit successfully grafts additional fruits on to our souls, the Spirit will also deepen the productivity of our natural fruit[s]. Ask the Spirit to develop a specific fruit in you this Advent. Target this fruit and pray on it each day. As you waken Christmas morning, consider how well this specific fruit has developed over the Advent period.
The Tradition of the Catholic Church identifies the following fruits as the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love [Charity], Joy. Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Long suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity.