Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Ps 103:1-4, 6-8, 11; 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-
The first reading, Exodus 3:1-8, and the gospel, Luke 13:1-9, concern tree fruitfulness. While tending Jethro’s flock across the desert, Moses sees a burning bush that is not consumed by the fire. The God of his ancestors had heard the plea of his people and wanted to use Moses to move to Jewish people out of Egypt and into a good and spacious land flowing with milk and honey. God forgave their unfaithfulness and wanted to show them His love and provision, which is expressed so nicely in the Responsorial Psalm 103; "The Lord is kind and merciful.”
We all are in need of love and kindness. God wants to provide that if we are open and follow his directions. It is not enough to say, I know Jesus and that is all I need. We see a lot of weather destruction of late. Is God trying to say many things to us? Our culture is trying to throw him out of public life in so many ways. Do you think that is in God’s loving plan? Most of us shall agree that it is not his plan for our heavenly journey, if we want to be headed there that is.
Jesus tells the story of the unproductive fig tree. Jesus tells the gardener to dig it up. "Wait" he says, “and let me work with it and fertilize it and if after a year it produces no fruit, then I shall remove it.”
How can we analyze this story? We should not read a lot into it. Yet God has given us life and we have many talents and gifts with which to live our lives and help others as we journey toward heaven. St. Paul speaks of 16 characteristics of Christian love, which is very different than secular understandings. He says in a positive sense, love is: patient, kind, respectful of others, humble, sensitive, courteous, helpful, understanding, forgiving, compassionate, truthful, ready to make allowances, ready to trust, optimistic, enduring and is and faithful. We receive these graces first from God’s loving kindness towards us, his forgiveness of our mistakes and unfaithfulness to his plan for us. If we turn from our worldly ways and develop more of a relationship with Jesus, we grow in this form of love. Then Jesus empowers us to share this love with others. That sharing is what scripture means by being merciful and bearing God’s good fruit. St. Paul lists 9 fruits of God’s Spirit in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and self-control or chastity according to our state in life. These are also called Christian virtues, ways of good behavior.
The fruits of the Holy Spirit grow over time like fruit ripening on a tree or vine. As our relationship with Jesus grows from time spent in prayer, attending Mass more and more frequent confession, we bear this kind of loving fruit.
Jesus, during this Lent help us see the need to spend more time with you in prayer and gospel reading so we are filled more with your love. Then your love in us will flow more freely to help make life more pleasant to live.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)