Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, March 6, 2010
[ Lent II – C – RCL in the Episcopal Church Kalendar ]
"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.'"
from the Gospel called Luke, chap 13
This parable which Luke has Jesus telling is about the patience and love of God. And it’s an illustration about the process of Repentance that immediately precedes this passage. Both passages are “tough talk”, using what is known as “apocalyptic” (of “last times” and “judgment”) language. This language is meant to bring us up short, startle us, into hearing the point.
People get all worked up about how “tough” Jesus sounds, first lacing into ALL sinners (i.e., all of us) to understand that anything that separates us from Divine Love, no matter how great or little, needs to be repented of. Then he seems ruthless towards the poor fig tree (where elsewhere we are told that it isn’t even the season for figs!). But understood properly, in the context of Jesus’ Loving Father, Jesus is saying (a) we all must be diligent about turning away from Unlovingness, and (b) God – who is the vinedresser - relentlessly, patiently, keeps finding ways to encourage pruning and fertilizing until we finally get the message and synch our lives to God’s Life.
One (at least I do!) gets the feeling that the vinedresser is going to work like hell to make sure than when the vineyard owner comes again there will be some new growth and maybe a little fruit to warrant letting the fig tree stay!!
That’s the God we know and love! That image is always at our core.