At that time some people who were present
there told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had
mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to
them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans
suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all
other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if
you do not repent, you will all perish as they
did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the
tower at Siloam fell on them -- do you think
they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in
Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you
do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"
And he told them this parable: "There once was a
person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it
but found none, he said to the gardener, ´For three
years now I have come in search of fruit on
this fig tree but have found none. So cut it
down. Why should it exhaust the soil?´ He said to
him in reply, ´Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize
it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not
you can cut it down.´"
Introductory Prayer: Lord, who am I that you spend time
listening to me in my prayer? Who am I that
you speak with me? You have given humanity such dignity
by assuming our nature and giving me personally so many
gifts. Time and time again you have been patient with
me and received me back into your embrace when I
have strayed from you. Thank you for your kindness to
me. I hope to receive it always in the future
and especially at the hour of my death. Your kindness
and patience are a manifestation of your love for me.
I want to return that love, because the only fitting
response to love is love.
Petition: Lord, help me to be as patient with others
as you are with me.
1. The Fig-less Fig: The owner of the fig tree
in the parable, which many spiritual authors see as an
image of God the Father, comes for three years in
search of fruit. How often our Heavenly Father comes in
search of fruit on the fig tree of our lives.
And what does he find? He has given us the
“soil” and so many elements that are conducive to being
fruitful. He has made known his desire for us to
bear fruit, and his Son has explained to us how
the fruit is to be produced. There are no excuses.
Let’s take notice of the lesson of the parable: When
the Father comes to us looking for fruits, it is
because it is the time for fruit. What will we
say to the Father if he has given us ten,
twenty, forty, sixty years to bear fruit but finds none?
It’s not just about looking nice, as a fig does.
It’s about bearing fruit – fruit that will last –
according to the Father’s plan.
2. The Fig That Was Almost Toast: There is an
American idiom referring to something that is destroyed and no
longer what it was: “It’s toast!” The fig tree in
the parable was in danger of becoming “toast.” “Cut it
down” was the order given by the owner. “Why should
it exhaust the soil?” What a terrible accusation! It was
useless and only sapping nutrients from the soil for no
purpose. When we apply this parable to our own lives,
it is ghastly to think that our life, or the
lives of others, might be just as useless. Cut it
down. Take it away. It serves no purpose. The judgment
is just. But it was a judgment that was soon
to be lifted, both in the case of the fig
tree and in the application to our own lives. Am
I sufficiently grateful for God’s continual mercy towards me and
3. Leave It… Thanks
to the gardener in the parable, the fig lives and
is not cut down. The axe does not bite into
the trunk of the fig, wrenching from it the beauty
of its leaves and meandering branches. In our case, Jesus
Christ the Good Gardener steps in and asks the owner,
the Heavenly Father, to “leave it;” he, the Good Gardener,
will take care of things. And how he does it!
The Gardener himself is cut down in a bloody way
and crucified. We who indeed should justly be cut down
are saved, while the axe is put to the trunk
of His body. All for love of us! Archbishop Luis
Martinez has a beautiful image in his book The Secrets
of the Interior Life where he speaks of suffering as
a manifestation of love: “It is said that the myrrh
tree allows its perfume to escape only when it is
bruised.” The perfume “flows drop by drop through the lacerations
of the bark that enfold them.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, how patient
the Father is with me! Thank you for coming to
save me, for laying your life down for me, for
suffering what I should endure because of my self-centeredness and
sinfulness. But with you, there is hope.
Resolution: I will exercise patience today with
everyone I meet, thinking of the patience that God has
had with me.