This Week's Reflection
Oratory Reflection 556: A Call to Repentance: Reflection on Luke 13:1-9
“At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’
“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.”’”
The parable that St. Luke recounts stands alone; not much of an introduction proceeds it, and no explanation follows. Yet, obviously, it was important to St. Luke to include it in his Gospel, and it ultimately shows us Jesus’ call to repentance. Pope Benedict XVI wrote of Jesus: “As His preaching continues, it becomes ever clearer that in His parables He is talking about Himself, that the ‘Kingdom’ and His own person belong together, that the Kingdom is coming in His own person. The decision He demands is a decision on how one stands in relation to Him…”
So what can we learn from this parable for our own journey of faith? Under the figure of a fig tree, God looks for good fruit from us: the results of His grace. His mercy, love, and goodness are not throw-aways. They are most serious gifts, necessary for our journey into eternal life which God desires for us.
We can conclude then that the owner of the fig tree is God the Father, and the vinedresser is Jesus, His Son. Then this teaching might have something to say about God’s merciful and generous patience. He is patient with us as we struggle along in life with our victories and our defeats, with our daily labor of obedience to our faith.
This brings to mind what St. Benedict wrote in the Prologue of the Benedictine Rule: “The Lord waits for us daily to translate into action, as we should, His holy teaching...therefore our life span has been lengthened by way of a truce that we should amend our misdeeds.”
Then St. Benedict adds: “As the Apostle (St. Paul) says, ‘Do you not know that the patience of God is leading you to repent?’” And we can answer, “Yes, we do know!” And St. Benedict might pointedly ask, “And what follows from that?”
-Fr. John Denburger, OCSO, Genesee Abbey
My Jesus, I love Thee with my whole heart. I repent of having so many times heretofore displeased thy infinite goodness. By thy grace I resolve never to offend Thee more for the time to come; and at this present moment, poor sinner as I am, I consecrate myself wholly to Thee. I renounce for myself, and I give to Thee, my will, my affections, my desires, everything that I call my own. From this day forth do Thou with me, and with everything that belongs to me, whatever pleases Thee. I ask Thee only, and I wish only, for thy holy love, for final perseverance, and the perfect fulfillment of thy will. Amen.
Quote from a Saint:
“The scorpion who stings us is venomous, but when his oil has been distilled, it is the best remedy for his bite;—even so sin is shameful when we commit it, but when reduced to repentance and confession, it becomes salutary and honorable. Contrition and confession are in themselves so lovely and sweet-savored, that they efface the ugliness and disperse the ill savor of sin.”
-St. Francis De Sales
How are we to know that we are in need of repentance?
What does true repentance look like? What do the Gospels and Church teachings say about it?
The Lord offers us repentance as a gift. What does it take to be able to accept this gift?
How does repentance help us to come closer to God and the life he desires for us?
In what way does Christ intercede for us when we fail to produce good fruit?
How do the actions of the Son help us realize the patience of the Father?
Where in your life has God been patient with you? Are there areas in which you lack good fruit?