Third Sunday of Lent

 

Icon of the Fig Tree
The Fig Tree icon

 

 

Cycle C: Luke 13: 1-9


The parable of the fig tree exhorts us not to live a fruitless life.


 

In 1970, during a protest at Kent State University, national guardsmen shot and killed several students. Shortly afterwards, psychologists interviewed parents of college-age children. Among other questions, they asked whether the students who had been killed were campus radicals or innocent bystanders. Overwhelmingly, the parents believed that the slain students were campus radicals. Applying to their findings Attribution Theory, which tries to explain how and why people make sense of their world, the psychologists concluded that the majority of parents held that the slain students were radicals because it was too frightening for them to believe otherwise. If they believed that the slain students were innocents bystanders, then they would have to admit that in a similar situation their own children were vulnerable. Whenever disaster strikes, we tend to attribute it to a cause that will protect us from a similar disaster.

This is what the people in today’s gospel were trying to do. They had to believe that those killed by Pilate or the falling Tower of Siloam were sinners. This belief protected them from living in an unpredictable world. They were reasoning thus: “All we need to do in order to be safe is to keep the Law, for bad things don’t happen to good people.” Jesus challenges their thinking by telling them the Parable of the Fig Tree, which teaches that to avert spiritual disaster it is not enough to keep the Law. Our lives must bear fruit.

The Greek word translated “wasting (katargeo) the soil,” means unused, idle, inactive, or useless. From a spiritual perspective, our life is useless and barren, if, like the fig tree, we provide shade only for our selves and offer no nourishment to others.

The parable is consoling, for it proclaims a season of grace, a second chance, a stay of execution. Each day when we wake up, we are given another opportunity to truly live life by loving our neighbor. But the parable is also sobering, for it warns us that our opportunities are not endless. Thoreau wrote that he wanted to live deliberately in order to avoid the ultimate disaster of life, that at the moment of death he would “discover that [he] had not lived” (86). This is what we must fear.

~ A Meditation by Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

 

The Lord’s Abundant Crop

Lord you’re doing
So much in our lives
To bring a deeper growth
A time of pruning
The withered branches
So healthier ones can grow

Though it is painful
And hard to endure,
It is needful in our lives —
For without it we’d be
An unhealthy tree
And may wither away and die

To keep on producing
The fruit of the Lord,
We need to have sin cut out
Then new branches will come
And we’ll flourish again
As the new shoots begin to sprout

Then we will produce
From the seeds God planted
Fruit that will never rot
Ripened by God
And picked in its season,
Is the Lord’s abundant crop!


A poem by Michelle Lowndes
© By M.S.Lowndes