The Barren Fig Tree…

The Barren Fig Tree …

” 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 ” Luke 13 : 6-9

This reading occurs in the cycle of readings and usually occurs within the Lenten season. It is usually generally thought of as a message that means we should do some good or random kindness in our lives. But is this all it really means ?

Not really. The fig tree can be thought of as a bit of a parable for our entire lives. Like many of the parables and indeed scripture in general, the stories have many different facets and little hidden gems that reflect differently for different people, at different times in their lives.

Save for some of those things like the Ten Commandments or the sermon on the Mount, where the intent is clear.

So lets take a look at this parable and see what it can tell us.

In this parable the fig tree can be a symbol for life. In the beginning it says “There was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard…. ”

IN this portion its easy to say, OK, this is God, who gave us life. And while true, it can tell us more.. Consider that there was a gardener A helper if you will. There is not a back story here. However, we can know that these things don’t happen by accident. They are planned. No one plants an orchard by accident there is some good amount of consideration that goes into such things. There is the land, the selection of where to plant to orchard, the soil that the orchard is going to be planted in and if it is healthy and has the right minerals for the job at hand etc.

So we can understand that God in the vast designs of the universe planned for us. God chose us. In the ultimate design of the universe He intended for us to be where we are, and to grow and be happy in this life.

OK, that’s fine and good, you say, but what about this middle section that says this : ” 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? ”

That kind of sounds like if we don’t produce God will kill us ?

Of course not ! This section is meant to be cause us to examine our lives, and to take stock of where we are on our spiritual journey. In the course of His priestly ministry on earth, scripture is replete with examples of how it is that we are to live our lives. The church gives us clear examples of works to be done in the Corporal, and Spiritual works of Mercy.

In this section we can come to understand that if we look at our lives, and see that there has been a long period of time when there is no spiritual growth, If we have not spent some time seeking after God and His holy will for us and for our lives, then there is a problem, and we need to spend some time examining our lives to see where it is that we went off the path.

In the next section, the Gardner says “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…”

We can look at the gardener, in a couple of ways, In some ways this could be viewed like a parent. Someone who was given the gift of working with the plants. It would be the gardeners job to care for the plants, to love the plants, to provide the things that are needed for their spiritual growth, and physical well being. And like life, not all the plants produce, or grow, or develop like every other plant.

There are some that require special care and love and nurturing at some point in their lives, or possibly for all their lives.
Without that care they will never develop or grow to reach their individual potential.

This can be extended to literally every stage of life. We have children who need parents until they reach maturity. We have the entire church community who help to provide spiritual growth and direction throughout life. We have the elderly, who may need our love and care as their physical bodies and minds are not possibly what they used to be. It also speaks about those who are physically or mentally challenged, who are each and everyone on their own special journeys. They are each here to both produce, and to play a certain role as one of Gods special gardener. Anyone who has cared for another life, will tell you there are things to be learned from each one. At each stage they are a treasure and a gift, not to be wasted, or abandoned.

Finally, there is the last portion of the parable …
“If not you can cut it down “…

So, this last line is meant to give us pause to consider what we have done in our lives, and what we are currently doing, and what it is that we can do going forward. It speaks to the idea that we can not really afford to waste the gifts of life, or turn our backs on the graces that God lays before us, either by the fact that we just don’t want to deal with it all, or because we just do not see these gifts because we are not seeking God, in our lives.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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