Jesus reveals that men must repent or perish in the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by fearing the punishment of the eternal Hell and by seeking the Gift of Knowledge so he can recognize and repent from his sins and by pursuing the Virtue of Magnificence so he can become great by being fruitful in Christ. 

Liturgy

3rd Week in Lent – Sunday – Cycle C – Lk 13:1-9; 29th Week in Ordinary time – Saturday – Lk 13:1-9

Commentary

After exhorting His disciples to soberly assess the states of their souls and to repent before it is too late, Jesus rejects the crowd’s suggestions that God only permits those who are grievous sinners to be punished.

The crowd refers to Pilate’s murder of Galileans during the performance of their ceremonial sacrifices to God, a blatant murder and insult against the true God; Pilate’s rejection of God will be absolutely clear when he murders Jesus in the Crucifixion.  Jesus asserts, contrary to common opinion, accidents do not only happen to those who are in a state of mortal sin. He confirms that those murdered by Pilate and those killed by the collapse of the tower in Silo’am were not necessarily worse sinners than others, a warning that men should not stigmatize the dead. Instead, Jesus warns all men of their urgent need to repent or perish; grisly earthly death comes to some, but eternal death comes to all who do not repent.

Seeking to relieve the crowd’s fear of unexpected and sudden death and to urge souls to repent, Jesus offers a glimpse into the mercy of God in The Parable of the Fig Tree.  God the Father (a man who owns a vineyard) who is the master of Creation (the vineyard) observes a man (fig tree) is not serving Him in holiness (bearing figs).  God the Father (the owner) instructs the Son of God (vinedresser) to destroy (cut down) those men who refuse to repent and be fruitful in love (the barren fig tree). The Son of God (vinedresser) pleads with God the Father (the owner) to allow Him (vinedresser) time (a year) to exhort (dig about and put on manure) men to receive His Gospel to love (bear fruit).

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be motivated by the explicit warnings of Jesus to repent from sin: Son of God, Jesus has Divine Knowledge of the state of men’s souls and the true causes of their deaths; Jesus uses Warnings of punishment to warn men about unrepentant sin and confirms He will use Vindication (a part of Justice by which men are rewarded or punished for their thoughts and acts) as the Divine Judge; Divine Priest, Jesus urges men to repent from sin and previews the Sacrament of Penance.

Fear punishment for sins and trust in God’s forgiveness

Realize: While the men in today’s Gospel accepted that sin exists but were confused about God’s punishment of sin, today many men reject, ignore or even embrace sin and avoid the reality of their unavoidable punishment for their many unrepentant sins.

Believe: Reflect upon Mortal and Venial Sin (CCC 1849-1876) and the just Punishment of Sin (CCC 1472-1473).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Knowledge so I recognize my sinfulness, the just punishment of sin, my need to repent, and so I may be confident in the great truth that Christ desires to forgive all my sins in the Sacrament of Penance.

Become great by being fruitful for Christ

Realize: Men zealously use their many gifts given by God to be fruitful in all sorts of worldly things: career, making money, hobbies, sports, leisure activities, etc. In contrast, Jesus calls on every Catholic man to use his gifts to be fruitful in spiritual things.

Believe: Reflect upon the absolute need for Fruitfulness (CCC 736, 961, 1108, 1129, 1521, 1724, 1804, 1852, 2074, 2731).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Magnificence (a part of Fortitude) so I always strive to do the great and noble work of bearing fruit for You and Your Holy Catholic Church.