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Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Some people 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.’”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, I come before you as your child, as your disciple, and as a sinner. Look mercifully on my life and help me to grow, to thrive, and to yield fruit. Open my mind to the message you have for me today.
- God Seeks Fruits: The parable about the fig tree shows that God is not indifferent to the way our lives play out. Just as the person in the parable who had planted the fig tree expected it to yield fruit, God has created us with a specific destiny and mission in mind. Over the years, if our lives do not correspond to that destiny, if we do not develop in the way he intended, or if we do not bring the expected fruit, then our creator will rightly be as disappointed as the person in the parable. God created us, he has given us all we need to thrive, and he greatly cares about what will become of us.
- Which Fruits Is God Seeking in Us?: At first, we could think that God looks for fruits from our lives for his own benefit. In reality, however, there is nothing God needs that he does not already have. Jesus has taught us time and again what God seeks from us. The ultimate fruit of human life is to have known, loved, and served our Lord, and to have overcome the corruption of sin so as to live eternally with him in heaven. God created us for heaven and he wants us there with him.
- The Gardener: This parable highlights how difficult it is for man to live up to his destiny. As a free creature, man is able to take charge of his own human and spiritual development, but this rarely leads to the desired result of ultimate fulfillment. We can’t do it alone. The parable introduces the crucial role of the gardener. The gardener, God, is not only the creator who examines the fruits of our lives, but he also patiently works with us, and within us, in order to help us reach our eternal destiny. We only become really fruitful, and thus fully alive, in collaboration with God!
Conversing with Christ: My God, you have created me in your image and hence know that I will become the best version of myself when my life yields fruits: fruits of joy, fruits of charity, fruits of holiness. Despite my frequent inadequacies, you do not overwrite my free will but patiently work with me, helping me to convert and to grow. Thank you for loving me that much.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will ask for your help in a difficult area of my life—one which needs the attention of the gardener right now.
For Further Reflection: “Here we can glimpse the authentic meaning of Christian education: it is the fruit of a collaboration between educators and God that must always be sought. The Christian family is aware that children are a gift and a project of God. Therefore it cannot consider that it possesses them; rather, in serving God’s plan through them, the family is called to educate them in the greatest freedom, which is precisely that of saying “yes” to God in order to do his will. The Virgin Mary is the perfect example of this “yes.” Let us entrust all families to her, praying in particular for their precious educational mission”: (Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of the Holy Family, December 27, 2009: Complete address).
Written by Father Gabriel von Wendt, LC.
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