Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent (C) – March 24, 2019
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree which was planted but bore no fruit for three years. Rather than tearing the tree down, the gardener insists on giving it the chance to grow for one more year. He hopes the tree may strengthen and bear fruit, if only he fertilizes and reworks the ground around it first. This parable comes right after Jesus encourages those before him to repent, or rather, warns them to repent, so they do not perish. Perhaps we are being invited to examine the ground in which we are planted and are trying to grow, in this same spirit of penance. As we continue journeying through this season of Lent, one which takes us from winter into the hope and new life of spring, from the desert to the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, perhaps we’ve been given a chance to till, cultivate, and fertilize the ground in which we find ourselves, too. What habits, passions, mindsets, judgments allow you to bear fruit, and which keep you barren? Which friends, teammates, mentors, community mates, co-workers inspire you or hinder you? How might the Lord be inviting you this Lent to sort through and restore all that lay in soil of your life this season? Jesus does not wish for us to become like trees cut down only to perish. In His mercy and love, he allows us to rework the soil in which we are planted time and time again, so that we may grow upward and ever-closer to him. In the Gospel this week, we are encouraged to reflect, to pray, and to repent, so that our lives may become rich and abundant with fruit that gives glory and praise to God.
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus 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.'"
We are sinful, we are prideful. We have all gone astray.
Deep within us we are needful of a clean heart day by day.
As we travel on our journey take our hearts and make them new.
Jesus walked this road before us as our God, but human, too.
Turn our hearts, turn our minds, make us branches holding fast to the vine.
Patient Keeper, draw us to your tender mercy, Tree of Life.