The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent - Luke 13:1-9
For centuries fig trees were highly valued in the Near East. Their broad branches provided much-needed shade in hot weather and their fruit was highly prized. When ripe, figs had high sugar content, so they offered a rich source of energy for daily life. They could even be baked into bread and preserved for a long time. Wine could also be produced from ripened figs. Everyone in the time of Jesus would pay close attention when he mentioned fig trees. People knew of their importance for survival.
He pointed to the fig tree as an example of something that was intended for the many uses just mentioned. But he added that if a fig tree did not deliver, it was to be cut down. A fruitless fig tree had little value, although some people might have thought that “next year” it would be better. Jesus recommended more decisive action. All of God’s creation has a purpose, he taught, and if anything fails its purpose, immediate action had to be taken.
Jesus used the fig tree as an example of us. We were not created by God to just sit around and do nothing. God has expectations for each one of us.
In recent years, the Catholic Church has expanded its understanding of what it means to have a vocation (or calling) from God. A few Catholics are called by God to be a priest or a nun. But that is not the only meaning of receiving a call from God. The Church now sees these special callings as a limited view of “vocation.” In contrast, we now believe that every one of us has what might be called an invitation or vocation from God to do something particular to advance God’s Kingdom here on earth.
We do well to consider our daily work as part of our vocation. So too are the various roles we perform in our family life. For instance, I try to keep in mind that I have a vocation or a calling to be a teacher and a writer. But I also have a vocation that is directly connected with my being married and being a parent. Right now, I have an added vocation from God to be a grandparent. These activities and roles are not only important to those I serve, but also to God. God has certain expectations of me and of you. In a sense, every aspect of our calling from God is personal and unique. We each have a specific vocation to be an active member of our church, our families and our communities. In that sense, our lives are to “bear fruit.” Lent is a good time to be reminded of that.
©David M. Thomas, PhD