Working with the Word
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases: sinners, repent, cut it down, I shall cultivate … and fertilize it, may bear fruit
To the point: The owner of the fig tree only cares about whether the tree bears fruit—he has no regard for the tree and its life. The gardener, on the other hand, cares about the fig tree, sees the life still there, and wants to give it every chance (“I shall cultivate … and fertilize it”) to produce. He understands that as long as there’s life, there’s potential to bear fruit. What wastes away life within us and prevents us from bearing fruit is sin. Repentance, then, means choosing to nurture new life and all the fullness it can bring.
Connecting the Gospel …
... to the first reading: Paul, like Jesus, offers examples from Israel’s history as a “warning to us” (Second Reading) not to stray from God’s guidance. God offered every means for coming to new life to the people of Israel; so, too, Jesus offers us every means for coming to new and fruitful life (“I shall cultivate the ground ... and fertilize it”).
... to experience: Growing up takes hard work. Getting ahead in life takes hard work. Deepening our relationship with God and others takes hard work. It is no surprise, then, that repenting takes hard work. The discipline of Lent includes this kind of hard-work repentance which leads to the new life Easter promises.
**From Saint Louis University