At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In one of the most significant Gospels of Lent, Jesus offers us an insight into our relationship with God and a further understanding of how and why people undergo evil. Rather than seeing human suffering as simply a punishment for sin, Jesus instead tells a story about second chances. Jesus ask whether some Galileans, put to death by Pontius Pilate were more guilty of sin than other Galileans. And Jesus answers his own questions by saying, “No.” Then Jesus considers the case of people who were killed in the collapse of a building. Was God punishing them for some transgression? Jesus once again affirms that their deaths had nothing to do with sin or punishment by God for sinfulness of some sort.
And then Jesus tells a parable about a fig tree that produces no fruit. The master of the house wants to cut it down, but the gardener suggests that it should be fertilized and given special treatment just one more season, and then – if there is still no fruit – then the owner can carry out his will. Should we conclude that Jesus sees himself as the gardener, asking the master for just one more chance for the tree? Or is it God himself who offers all of us second chances?
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.
Holy God, Jesus calls us to repentance and a change of heart during these days of Lent.
Open our hearts to the voice of your Word. Give light and life to our attitudes and actions. Amen.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!