At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He 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.´"
Introductory Prayer: My Lord and my God! I believe that you came as my Savior. I know you wish to save me from everlasting harm. Thank you. I place all my trust in you. I love you, Lord, and I offer myself as an instrument for you to help others to know and love you, too.
Petition: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you and to spread your Good News.
- Scandalized by Evil: It can happen that people become scandalized or doubt God because of the evil and suffering they see in the world around them. Christ shows us that this attitude is mistaken because God says, “I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man´s conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). God does no evil. It is we, his creatures, who do evil, and God suffers the consequences twice: He suffers when we reject him through our sins, and he then takes our sins upon himself and suffers on the Cross so that we might be redeemed. If anyone has a right to complain about the evil in the world, it is God. However, it is through forgiveness that God shows his power and his love. We should not be scandalized by evil, but examine our souls and repent of our own sinful deeds.
- Wrath of God or Wrath of Man? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I am that tree which so far has given little or no fruit. Jesus is the gardener who sticks up for me and pleas to “fertilize me” instead of cutting me down. The fertilizer is Christ’s Body and Blood, which he sacrificed so that I might have life to the fullest. He wishes to give me his very self and to fill me with grace and thus “reconstruct” my weak, worn heart and person. What does he ask of me? I need to turn to him with both contrition for my sins and confidence in his healing love. I need to open myself to his saving grace. Am I fully aware of my need for Christ, and do I turn to him hungrily? If not, why not?
- Finding Figs: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). After three years of public ministry, we see in today’s Gospel that Jesus is ready to put his life on the line for me – but does the Son of Man find any faith or love in my heart? “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He will soon shed his blood under Pontius Pilate – for my sins. Will he find my tree barren and grant me this one last “year” of mercy? Or will he find my tree blooming with sweet-smelling fruits in good works performed out of love for him? He will hang from a dead tree on Good Friday, and his corpse, given out of love for me, will become real fruit, real moisture and fertilizer to my arid soul. Let him make of me a fruitful fig tree, so that others, too, may come to repentance on my account.
Conversation with Christ: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you, and to spread your Good News. I believe in your mission of saving souls, including mine. I hope in you because of the time of mercy that you grant me. I want to love by spreading the Good News of your salvation. Let me be a messenger of your love.
Resolution: I will serve others by voicing Christian hope in my conversations today.