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Based on the Gospel of Luke 13:1-9
Have you ever eaten a Fig Newton – a bar-shaped cookie with a fig filling?

Fig trees are mentioned often in the Bible. They, along with olive trees, are the most common trees in Palestine. Fig trees, with their thick foliage, are often pruned into the shape of an umbrella to give shade around the house or field. To sit “in the shade of one’s fig tree” means to be happy and at peace. It usually takes three years for fig trees to produce fruit.

Jesus’ parable about the fig tree has an important message.

Jesus said, “A man went to check how much fruit was growing on a fig tree in his orchard, but he found none. So he said to his gardener, ‘This tree has grown no fruit for the last three years. Cut it down.’ But the gardener pleaded, ‘Give the tree one more year; I will cultivate and fertilize the ground around it. Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, you can cut it down.’”

During three years of public ministry, Jesus, the Master Gardener, taught and preached about God’s love and invited people to turn away from sin and follow him. Jesus is the gardener who pleaded for us before God the Father. Jesus is the gardener who cultivated and fertilized the ground by sacrificing his life to save us. The cross on which Jesus died is the tree that was cut down so we would be saved; it is the tree of life. Jesus, by his death and Resurrection, is the fruit of that tree so that we can live, bear the good fruits of his love and someday gain heaven.

Like that fig tree in the Gospel, sometimes things go wrong around us. We get selfish, want to argue, say and do unkind things, and won’t forgive or show mercy to others. When we do such things, we cannot bear good fruit.

No matter how often we do something bad and sin, Jesus doesn’t give up on us. He loves us so much he will always forgive us, if we are sorry. That is why the sacrament of reconciliation is such a precious gift.

Jesus, you are the Master Gardener. Come into the garden of our faith this Lent and help us to grow in prayer, knowledge of you, and love of the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist so we can truly bear good fruit.