Today’s fig tree

"We are all called to bear fruit."


In the third Sunday of Lent, Jesus tells us the parable of the barren fig tree. The parable of the fig tree is traditionally regarded as the story of repentance. Jesus in the parable narrated: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. And he said to the dresser of the vineyard: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it done therefore: why cumbereth it the ground? But he said to him: Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it. And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

In the story, the vinedresser tells the grower to cut down the fig tree after not being barren for three long years. But the grower asks his lord for another year. Jesus, as the grower, intercedes for the life of the barren fig tree asking the Lord for another year. Here, God wants the barren fig tree condemned because after three years it has remained fruitless but with the intercession of Jesus, he relents. The simple lesson is that God does not want to condemn us and so he gives us every bit of chance to repent, to change the direction of our life. In telling that they could be cut down, Jesus was warning that indeed they could be like those who could be consigned to perdition if after giving them many chances they choose not to bear fruit, that is, lead a life of transgression. That’s a sobering thought. We don’t like to think about it, and to be blunt, most of us don’t consider that life is really like this. But it is. There are no guarantees. One day you are up and about, the next day you are lying in bed seriously or mortally sick.

Sin is no laughing matter and must not be taken lightly nor with fanciful levity. It is a serious spiritual issue that must be totally pirged from ourlives with the help of the Holy Spirit. Thus, God does not want us to dilly dally but to take action ASAP—that is to cleanse ourselves with the stain of sin and turn our backs permanently from all iniquities. This is precisely the message of the African nun who addressed the bishops during the four-day clerical sex abuse summit. In her speech, Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian and the first African to serve as the Leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, directly challenged the notion that it’s not an African problem or an issue in the developing world on Saturday, emphasizing “how serious the issues were and still are.” “Probably like many of you, I have heard many Africans and Asians say, that ‘this is not our issue in countries in Africa and Asia, it is the problem in Europe, the Americas, Canada and Australia’,” she said. “The fact that there are huge issues of poverty, illness, war and violence in some countries in the Global South does not mean that the area of sexual abuse should be downplayed or ignored,” she said. “The Church has to be pro-active in facing it.” Openibo, speaking on the third day of Pope Francis’s summit on clerical sexual abuse, gathering the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world, said that “Clerical sex abuse is a crisis that has reduced the credibility of the Church when transparency should be the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.”

“How could the clerical Church have kept silent, covering these atrocities?” Openibo asked. “The silence, the carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable. We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a Church,” she said. She called for strong “zero tolerance” policy: “By taking the necessary steps and maintaining zero tolerance with regard to sexual abuse we will release the oppressed,” she said. On the special treatment of seminarians, “It worries me when I see in Rome, and elsewhere, the youngest seminarians being treated as though they are more special than everyone else, thus encouraging them to assume, from the beginning of their training, exalted ideas about their status,” she said.

We, much like the fig tree, are all called to bear fruit. But God may want all of us to be rewarded for our fruitfulness and so he is so patient always awaiting for us to beat fruit, but let us always bear in mind that the wait is not forever. This is the essential message of this season of Lent.

Facebook Page: Professor Tony La Viña Twitter: tonylavs

Topics: Tony La Viña , parable of the fig tree , Lent , Jesus Christ , repentance
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