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Jesus, the Master GardEner, won’t give up on us

Based on Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 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, and 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. Figs are eaten fresh or dried in the sun and pressed into cakes.

In the Gospel, Jesus’ parable is about an orchard of fig trees. The owner of the orchard notices one of the trees has no fruit and wants it cut down. But the gardener asks the owner to give the tree one more year – so I can feed and care for it. If it still has no fruit, it can be cut down. The gardener doesn’t want to give up on the tree.

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 we can live and bear the good fruits of his love and someday gain heaven.

Like the fig tree in the Gospel, sometimes things go wrong around us. We get selfish, disobedient, unkind, 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.

Pope Francis once said, “Mercy will always be greater than any sin; no one can place limits on the love of God. God never tires of forgiving.”