Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Looking for Fruit  

Our Lord is always looking for fruit from our lives. He wants to see what we are doing with what He has given us. The parable of the master who give his servants money before he leaves for a distant country (Luke 19:11-27) is an example of our Lord's warning us to do well with the gifts He has given us.

We are also reminded of the need to bear fruit in St. Luke's Gospel through the ministry of St. John the Baptist who preached that we "bear fruits that befit repentance" (Luke 3:8). John added that, "every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (3:9). This is not an easy message to receive, but John only preached what Jesus later fleshed out in His parables as He headed to Jerusalem right before His Passion.

In fact, as Jesus approached Jerusalem he told the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9) which seems to be a fulfillment of St. John's warning. In this parable the owner of the vineyard has sought fruit from the fig tree for three years, but he has not found any. He tells the vinedresser to have the tree cut down because "why should it use up ground" (13:7). However, the vinedresser asks that the tree be fertilized and given another year to bear fruit. "If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down" (13:9). Many commentators note that Israel is considered a fig tree (Hosea 9:10, Jeremiah 8:13), and the Lord is pronouncing a judgment upon Israel's lack of fruit. The Lord has come to Jerusalem three times in his public ministry, and He has not found fruits of repentance and an acceptance of Him as the Messiah. The result is judgment. First, Jesus takes the judgment upon Himself at Calvary, and then Jerusalem is judged in its destruction by the Romans in 70 AD.

When I reflect on this, I think that the additional year which has been given to the fig tree to bear fruit. The Lord, in His mercy, extends the time to for us to bear fruit. Our lives are our opportunity to bear fruits that befit repentance. Every time I fail, I should remember His mercy that He longs for me to repent and bear fruit that indicates my gratitude for His forgiveness.

Finally, we want to know what it is that the Lord would have us to do. St. John the Baptist was asked the same question by the people who came to him and heard that they must bear fruit befitting repentance. He urged them to be generous with what they have, be fair and honest in their work, treat others with respect, and accept their wages without complaint (3:10-14). In other words, he calls them to social justice, integrity, and kindness. Each of us have the opportunity to perform those works each day. We, too, have been given a period of mercy in which we can do works for our Lord that indicate our true repentance. May God grant us the grace to perform them while we have this period of mercy.

Posted by David at 8:29 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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