Don Elly, M.Div.
Sometimes when something horrific happens like the horror of September 11, 2001 where the twin towers collapsed and the people in the buildings and on the planes died, I find myself wishing that God would punish those sinners, that the world did operate on the basis of equal retribution for amount of terror and violence of sinners. That is until I read the response of Jesus to the question of violence by power and by accident and then I say, “ Thank God for Fig Trees!”1
What do I mean? The evil use of power by Pilate where the blood of worshipping Galileans was mingled with their sacrifice is not an act of God. Does God care? Yes, when those people died for their faith I trust God was there as God always is in the witness of a faith willing to be an example, even to death. Honestly it is reality that can happen, but which I would prefer not happen to me and those I love.
Should it occur I pray God would give the strength and courage to make a witness to God’s love and power if needed. God is present as well when the tower falls as the community in God’s name is present with those who suffer, not to explain the unexplainable, but to be God’s witness that love supports, binds and heals and makes human love unbreakable.
You see I do believe that Jesus is correct: If I am always so sure of myself and clear what God ought to do and where God ought to be, I may find that my hard heart and narrowed mind make it difficult for the figs of hope, peace, joy, and kindness to grow. Unwilling to change, which is what repentance means, I will not allow God to work the fertilizer of grace into life and make the fig tree grow. Cutting it down will cut me off from the life that God would offer me in Jesus.
So I say in thankfulness to God, “Thank you for fig trees and another year in which to practice repentance and I ask only, God, that you will continue to work in the soil where my heart is hard to bring your new growth and transformation.
1 The Fig Tree Parable is a reminder that we are not to give up faith in face of suffering and hard hearts.
February 28, 2016; Cycle C; 3rd Sunday of Lent
Isaiah 55: 1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1st Cor.10:1-13; *Luke 13:1-9