March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent
“The gardener 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.” (Luke 13:1-9)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree. The tree had produced no fruit for three years, so the landowner ordered the gardener to cut it down. The gardener asked that the tree be given another year, and he promised to fertilize it, nurture it, and do all he could to make the fig tree produce fruit.
I have heard this parable interpreted a couple of different ways:
- God is the landowner, we are the gardeners, and the fig tree represents our lives. We are being judged on what we have done with our lives. We ask for more time to prove that we can be productive.
- God is the gardener and we are the fig tree. The gardener looks at us with love, seeking ways to save us.
Each interpretation speaks to the mercy of a loving God. Despite our failed efforts to live faith-filled lives, we are shown mercy, compassion, and understanding. A new start awaits us at every turn.
Food for thought: While God’s mercy is boundless, our time on earth is not. The fig tree will come down at some point. Will it have produced any fruit?