Third Sunday of Lent – Cycle C
Reflecting on Luke 13:1-9
So, for three years the owner comes to the fig tree for fruit and is disappointed not to find any. Hmm. The owner must not be Jewish, because every good Jew knows that the Book of Leviticus prohibits anyone from eating the fruit of any fruit tree for the first three years of its life (19:23-25).
The gardener is obviously an observant Jew, because he sneaks around this non-Jewish landowner and plucks off the early fruits― the unripened fruits―so he won’t find any when he comes.
But the landowner has another surprise coming, because next year, when the tree FINALLY bears its mature, delicious fruit, its produce belongs to God and not to him. It’s only when this long-awaited fig tree is five years old that its fruit may rightfully be eaten by the one who owns the land on which it’s planted.
This might be a Jewish joke on the Roman occupiers. Look how savvy the hired hand is! He tricks the Romans into observing the laws of Moses! Wouldn’t they be surprised if they knew they were behaving like Jews? Maybe they’ll give up and go home already.
Or maybe it’s a parable about delayed gratification. God gave us rules about trying to get to food―or anything, really― too early. We should exercise the discipline of patience in all things. The best fruits come to those who don’t squander their lives on the easy things, but work hard for that which is worth the wait.
But these are the secondary fruits. The first fruit is this: we are all on borrowed time. Take advantage of every grace offered yesterday, and make your life a delicious offering today.
How is your life a sweet fruit?
Kathy McGovern ©2019
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