This day, 45 years in the past, civil rights demonstrators were brutally attacked with billy clubs and tear gas on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. This attack has become known as “Bloody Sunday.” We still have a long way to go with equal rights for all people; black, white, or otherwise.
Today’s reflection is the parable about the barren fig tree.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
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.'” (NAB Lk 13:6-9)
Following on the verses just prior to these calling for repentance, the parable of the barren fig tree presents a story about the continuing patience of God with those who have not yet repented. The parable may also be alluding to the delay of the end time, when punishment will be meted out; and the importance of continuous preparation for the end time, since this delay is not permanent.
Jesus demands of sinners to repent before it is too late. Once we die, we can longer repent, and our lot has been cast. That is why frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so very important. I feel so bad for those that believe “confession” is an antiquated practice of faith. It never has been, though a few priests have taken a very liberal and improper interpretation of Vatican II, and have down-played the role of this valuable sacrament.
This is a parable of compassion for all of us as the sinners we are. The story produces comfort for those of us that stumble on the path to lives in eternity with Him, in heaven. Remember, the road to eternal bliss is a hard road to follow. It has many detours and obstacles that make it a challenge to navigate. What we must do, is to allow God to be our navigator, through an open and honest dialogue with Him, via constant prayer.
This parable is also one of urgency, hopefully lighting a fire under procrastinators. Since most of us do not know the moment of our demise, we need to be in a constant state of readiness. Frequent sacraments, especially Mass, Eucharist, and Reconciliation are the essential tools in our “Heavenly Survival Kits.”
God is inviting us, in a sense, to cultivate and tend the soil of our lives; and to watch it grow in faith. At the time of harvest, a banquet feast will take place, if we prepared the soil well.
“Lord, I wish to bring you a bumper crop. I will nourish the seeds of faith planted in me, and attempt to plant further seed in others. Please help me to keep the ‘weeds’ out. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Paul the Simple
A hermit and disciple of St. Anthony. Paul had long been a humble farmer in Egypt when, at the age of sixty, he discovered that his wife was unfaithful. Leaving her, he set out for the desert and went to Anthony to become a follower. Anthony at first refused him, owing to Paul’s advanced years and because he doubted Paul’s sincerity. As Paul was persistent, Anthony gave him a host of demanding and arduous tasks which Paul fulfilled with such humility, obedience, and simplicity that Anthony allowed him entry into the community. Paul was termed by Anthony the ideal monk and the so called “Pride of the Desert,” bearing with honor the title “the Simple.” The monk and historian Rufinus and the historian Palladius both made reference to Paul. By tradition, he could read minds and cure the sick. Feast day is March 7.
From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #7:
United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily. On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.