Saturday, October 22, 2016

Living Truth in Love

Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole Body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

‘‘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.’” Luke 13:7-9

God, help us to live Your truth in love, not in anger, hatred or division.  Through the gifts freely given by Jesus, lead us away from the winds of false teaching into the work of building your Kingdom.  Through the Holy Spirit, lead us to the priorities which will accomplish our part of this important work.  Amen.

While the emphasis in the first reading is on ascension and gift-giving by Christ,
maybe it is also encouraging us to reach for a higher purpose as we are called as priests, prophets, and kings to equip the whole people of God for their work of ministry.

The image of the barren fig tree could be a symbol of our ministry, our life or Jesus’ work.  On one hand, the notes in the NAB teach us that image evokes the continuing patience of God with those who have not yet given evidence of their repentance. “Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance.” (Luke 3:8)

We may not be the fig tree.  We may be the gardener inheriting our role from Christ.  As the gardener, have we neglected the fig tree? God’s patience and mercy allow us time to focus on the priorities of the Mission rather than the distractions that make us “tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.”

As Michael Card explains in Luke: The Gospel of Amazement:
For three years, roughly the same period of time as Jesus’ ministry, the owner had been looking for fruit from the tree but finding none.  So, he tells the worker to cut the tree down.  The worker becomes an advocate for the fruitless tree.  He asks if he might cultivate it for one more year as best he can.

What happens to the fruitless fig tree?  We do not know. 

What fruit will our ministry bear?  Are we the tree or the gardener?  If the tree, will we come around next year and bear fruit for Jesus?  If the gardener, will we tend to the “tree” with loving patience and make others bear fruit to build the Kingdom of God?

Luke leaves the story open-ended.  Right now, our lives too are open ended.  But there will be a conclusion when we least expect it. When Jesus looks upon us, will he see a barren tree or many figs?

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