Luke 13:1-9 There were some present who told Jesus 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.'"
Reflection Why do bad things happen to good people? Could it be that they deserved what they got? Jesus wants nothing to do with this kind of questioning. Essentially he says, “Stop talking and repent. Stop looking at other people and speculating about their situation. Look at yourself and your own life. How are you connected to God and your neighbor? How well are you living out God’s will for you? Is it time for you to change?” I suspect most of us would have to answer, “Yes” to that last question.
When we turn our minds around and stop focusing on other people we remember that we, like fig trees, are intended to bear fruit. If we are not bearing fruit then something needs to change. A little digging here, a little manure there. It is up to us to spend the time (perhaps a year) to do whatever it takes to amend the soil of our lives and bear fruit.
What is the fruit we are intended to bear? It is the embodiment of God’s love on earth. It is the outward and visibile expression of God’s always and everywhere Presence. It is God’s love revealed in all of our words, actions and relationships.
The season of Lent is a time for self-examination and repentence. Why not stop and examine the past twenty-four hours of you life. First note all the times you expressed God’s love in your words, actions and relationships. Write them down. Then honestly note all the times you have not. Write them down too. Now here is the thing. Realize, without the intervention of the gardener, that is to say, without the grace of God, there is little hope that you will actually be able to amend your soil and change your ways. So, for the sake of heaven on earth pray for the grace to bear good fruit.