Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

It may bear fruit in the future. 

 

This can be a confusing passage, can’t it?   On the one hand, when the people ask Jesus about the unjust and tragic death of some Galileans, he tells them that if they don’t repent, they too will perish in a similar way.   But then he tells a parable describing how God allows a patient gardener to cultivate and fertilize the ground to give a barren fig tree one more chance to bear fruit.

So which is it?   Does sin bring destruction or mercy?

Both.   Jesus didn’t mince words when he called people to repentance.   They thought that the Galileans who died tragically must have been worse sinners than everyone else;   their deaths must have been some sort of extreme punishment for extreme sins.   But Jesus said no, they were no worse off than anyone else.   Everyone needs to repent.

He didn’t stop there though.   Jesus also made it clear that while God is always on the lookout for the fruit of repentance in our lives, he is also like the gardener, patiently caring for us, coaxing us to bear fruit.

Yes, God hates sin.   But he loves us and longs for us to turn away from sin and return to him.   That’s why he is constantly calling out to us with mercy, constantly giving us another chance to turn back to him.

Keep this in mind when you’re aware of an area in which you seem stuck in sin or barren like that fig tree.   Acknowledge that sin has real consequences, but also ask Jesus to cultivate and nourish his life in you.   Let him be like that gardener who did everything possible to make the fig tree fruitful.

Keep this in mind also when you see a loved one in trouble.   Keep it in mind when it seems that the world around you is spinning out of control.   Remember the love and hope with which Jesus tends to the barren fig tree, and let that love and hope rise in your heart.   Let it move you to pray.   Let it move you to be merciful.   Let it move you to bear fruit that will last.

“Lord, thank you for doing everything you can to help me, and all people, bear the fruit of repentance.”

Romans 8:1-11
Psalm 24:1-6

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