The Deep End – ‘It may bear fruit next year’
Today’s Gospel brings a thorny question for Jesus, as the
people ask why a number of Galileans were killed by the
Romans as they made sacrifices to God. The basic
question is why do bad things happen to certain people?
Some Jewish leaders at the time viewed the Galileans as
second class Jews, and so they are raising more than a
question about meaningless suffering here. They want to
know if the Galileans suffered because they were not
really ‘Jewish enough’. Jesus responds with a sharp
question about a recent tragedy involving those killed
when the tower of Siloam fell on them. Were they worse
offenders than others in Jerusalem? No. Jesus responds
further by focusing on those who are still living. In the
parable of the fig tree we hear that the tree is not
producing any fruit and probably should be cut down.
However, the owner of the vineyard agrees to one more
year, during which it is given special attention.
Jesus’ response to the difficult question on suffering is to
focus on the living. We are still alive and therefore
should be producing much fruit. Perhaps those who are
questioning Jesus need , like the fig tree, much fertiliser,
nourishing and growth so that they can focus on
producing fruit for the world. The fig tree is blessed, and
has received much grace in terms of time and care. The
parable is a reminder to all of us of the nourishment and
time we have been given; it is a call to examine the fruits
we produce in this world, in our communities, our
families and in our church.