Through Baptism, God’s life has been planted in us. Like planting seeds and then never watering them, sometimes through sin or plain old negligence, the wonderful growth begun in us is thwarted. In the Gospel there is a story about a fig tree, probably once very beautiful and fruitful, that has produced no fruit in three years. The frustrated owner of the tree wanted it cut down. The gardener, however, persuaded the man to spare the tree, promising his personal care of hoeing and manuring it in hopes of bringing it back to health (Luke 13:1-9).
This lovely parable points to God who wants to care for us, knowing that left on our own, we would die. The words of Jesus before he tells the parable makes it clear that all the work is not in the hands of the Divine Gardner. He says that we are to repent or we will perish. Repentance means that things need to change. We need to take an honest look into how we are living our lives to see if we are letting God’s life in us grow and bear fruit. God is more than willing to do the cultivating. The question is, are we open to such care and cultivation? Are we able to admit that we need it?
Lent is an opportunity to hear Jesus calling us to take a very personal look at ourselves and see if we are willing to let the Divine Gardner do his work. What areas of our lives need cultivating and are we willing to name them? There are a variety of areas in our lives that may need some work. Our spiritual and emotional health. Our moral life, behaviors, activities, the choices we are making. Our relational life, marriages, children, friendships, fellow parishioners, co-workers. Taking a personal look means just that. We are the only ones living our lives, so our concern here is not for how somebody else is living their life. We all have different areas that need some work. What is important is that we are willing to take a look and then see where it is time to let God help us.
God can only cultivate and nourish us if we acknowledge that without Him we are as barren as that fig tree in the story. The Divine Gardner is ready with hoe, pruning shears and fertilizer. The time is now to take that personal look into our lives and let him use them.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector