At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
What makes the college admissions bribery scandal that has commanded recent headlines so compelling? Of course, there’s that all-too human part of us that wants to shake our heads: “I may be bad, but I’m not that bad.” We don’t lie boldly to college officials. We can’t imagine changing test scores. We would never bribe a decision maker! At the same time, our Christian faith reminds us to find a mirror anytime the head shaking starts. Jesus is clear in today’s Gospel: Some may not be innocent, but they are no more guilty than others.
We are all loved sinners asked to tend to our own private gardens. And Jesus gives us a difficult challenge as he looks ahead to our final harvest. What fruit will we have to offer up to the Lord when our time in this world is over? Here’s a self-test: search your life for the fruits of the Spirit that St. Paul reminds us of in Galatians (5:22-23): “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Is the soil of my experiences rich in these gifts so good crops can grow? What can I do for someone today that might help to sow greater faith and love in the garden of my life?
——Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently finishing his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.
Dear God, make me more charitable!
“The school of Christ is the school of charity.
On the last day,
when the general examination takes place,
there will be no question at all
on the text of Aristotle,
the aphorisms of Hippocrates,
or the paragraphs of Justinian.
Charity will be the whole syllabus.”
—St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ
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