“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’”
Poor fig tree. Seriously. It wasn’t even the season to be producing figs. Jesus curses the tree just because he was hungry and at that exact moment the tree did not have any fruit for the Son of Man to eat. The fuller gospel passage from today’s Daily Eucharist has Jesus pretty much in a snit for the entire reading. Jesus goes on to cause a scene in the temple, Mark’s version of “The Cleansing of The Temple.”
After a long day of driving out money changers, attacking anyone carrying anything through the temple, and chastising those who had made his father’s house, “a den of robbers,” Jesus and the 12 head out of town. They pass by the same fig tree Jesus had scolded earlier on their way into town. Peter, remembering the divine wag of the finger exclaims, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Part of me wonders if that is what it will be like when Jesus returns on the Day of Judgment. There we may be, not producing fruit (read any of the myriad gospel passages where “producing good fruit” is mentioned) on the exact moment when Jesus shows up and we’ll be judged and cursed. Not a very comforting thought, is it?
Perhaps then we had better get busy making fruit–even if it isn’t the season for making fruit…even when we don’t want to, or it is inconvenient, or there are other things that seem more important. In your life what fruit do you make? What nourishment do you provide to those who are hungry around you? What more could you make, can you provide, can you give to feed not just Jesus but anyone who is in need? Take a look around…at our world, at our lives, in our heart–what fruit do we have to offer? What new fruit can we produce and give?
If you live with Jesus as your driving force, you will suffer enormously at least in part. Then, you will do His will, laying down your life (in one way shape or form) in martyrdom (of life or of death). But this is not “me but Christ who lives in me” and thus you will produce fruit, that is, the one fruit of eternal life Jesus Christ. But if you live for yourself you will produce nothing of Christ or for Christ or by Christ. Yet it is not an intellectual thing. It is falling in love with God’s beauty, and surrendering your soul to Jesus.
On this note, one of the newest saints who lived this exactly and produced much Jesus was beatified on Saturday, Oscar Romero.
Since I don’t know if I can join the relevant St. A groups because of my illness, I want to say one last thing on this blog. The Church to produce fruit in Christ has to cease to preach sentimentally about the poor. This charity is not true charity but patronizing and degrading. We have to become attuned to economic injustice in our capitalist systems (see MLK and Oscar Romero) and we have to study to be economists and politicians, activists and expert writers in order to turn the wheel of injustice. But at the same time, we cannot be abstract and remote from the poor. We must also live their lives at least for some part of our lives. We must suffer poverty.