I read today the Parable of the Sower for at least the fiftieth time.
It has always been the third case, that of the people suffocated by the wealth and concerns of the world, which has spoken to me most. This time I was struck by the word applied to them ‘fruit-less’, in Greek α-καρπος.
Right at the moment I am asking myself just how fruit-bearing (καρπος), we are being in the parish I am in and in the diocese. Or in other language, how salvation-bearing are we ? How many people, though contact with us as individuals and a group, find the way to more wholesome and more holy lives? The answer is very mixed : yes we have isolated individuals, both clergy and lay, whose lives have been changed or who have reached or are on their way to real holiness, in most cases in response to challenging personal situations. But on average, I am very far from convinced.
There seems in some places to be the idea that Orthodoxy is automatically salvation-bearing : if you expose yourself sufficiently to it you will automatically end up with a ticket to the right place. I very much doubt this : I think there is an awful lot of what we do, especially in my own parish, which bears precious little fruit, and while it may allow someone to slip into heaven, this is very far from the salvation, beginning hic et nunc, which Orthodoxy, and indeed Christianity of any confession, is all about.