Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
Saturday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 4: 7-16, Luke 13: 1-9)
“Living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Each of us who has been baptized into Christ is called to put on Christ, living no longer ourselves, but allowing Christ to live in us. Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father where he has prepared a place for us. Following in the footsteps of St. Paul, “[We] keep pressing on toward the goal to claim the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). As we run in the path of the gospel, we journey with those who pour themselves out in service of the poor and marginalized. Remembering how Christ poured himself out to fill us up, our acts of love and service become an encounter with the Living Word. The Word who became flesh in the womb of the ever-virgin Mary chooses to become flesh in us and lives among us.
The call to transformation in Christ does not start with us, but with God. “He predestined us for adoption into his family through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his good pleasure” (Eph. 1:5). God had gifted each of us with grace according to our ability to fulfill his will. The Son of God not only calls us to be holy, but he also gives us sufficient grace to be holy. In Christ all the fullness of the Godhead dwells (CF Col. 2:9). Of his fullness we have all received. Christ bestows grace upon grace to all who seek him. The Only-begotten Son enables all his brothers and sisters to grow in holiness to the glory of his Father. In him, we live and move and have our being. In Him, we are made partners in the eternal dance (Perichoresis) of the Blessed Trinity. By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we are drawn into communion with the Trinity.
As we consider the parable of the fig tree, allow me to mention a passage from the Gospel of John. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (Jn. 15:1). In today’s gospel, Jesus tells a story about a gardener (his Father) who is willing to invest time and energy in a tree that is not producing. His decision springs from something deeper than human logic. He knows what the tree is capable of doing, since he created it, and is willing to provide the nutrients (grace) it needs to flourish. In the story, Jesus tells us of the compassion and patience of his Father. The gardener does all the work. The tree just has to enjoy the attention. The heavenly gardener knows the parts of our lives that have not developed and are unfruitful. He patiently waits for us to allow him to do the pruning. Thanks to God’s loving kindness, it is never too late for us to produce new growth. The loving Father (the gardener) has grafted us to Christ (the vine). In His provident care, He gives us more than our bare necessities. He gives us what our souls crave. By gently watering us with grace and fertilizing us with the Bread from Heaven he provides us with all we need to produce a fruitful harvest.
Because God loves us we can not only acknowledge the evil we have done but also lift our heads and look to the future with confidence and trust. The loving gardener grants us another day, another hour, another breath. The Master of the Universe and the savior of our souls stands at the door of our hearts knocking. He calls each of us by name and waits for us to open the door and permit him to come in. We have no reason to fear opening up to him. He takes nothing away, but our sins. In return, he gives us himself. Will we answer?