Luke 13: 6-9
The direct meaning of this parable is clear. Jesus gives his people an ultimate warning: if Israel rejects the last opportunity given to it on the occasion of the coming and of the ministry of Jesus, if it refuses to repent and finally produce spiritual fruits, then it will be destroyed as a barren fig-tree is cut-down. This warning is the last one, for God can do nothing more beyond sending his own Son! If the elect people refuses to listen to his Son, to whom then will it listen? In order to understand the reason for this harsh warning, we must bear in mind the whole past of Israel. Here is a people on whom God has lavished his care and who has responded most of the time by infidelity. In this people, unfaithfulness has become as it were a second nature. Jeremiah could bitterly observe this phenomenon in his time: Israel is so accustomed to do evil that it cannot do good anymore. God constantly sent judges, prophets and sages to his people so as to remind it of the demands of the Covenant. Israel continued to indulge in idolatry and to practice social injustice. Finally, “after having in many and various ways spoken of old to the fathers by the prophets, God spoke to his people in the last days by a Son” (Heb 1:1-2). The coming of his Son is the last chance. This is what the parable teaches. When the owner of the fig-tree decides to have it cut down, the vinedresser obtains a delay, an extension, a grace-period: maybe he lavishes exceptional care on the fig-tree, it will finally bear fruits. The parable speaks of God’s mercy. This admirable patience of God towards his people is always the same towards each one of us. Despite our repeated refusals to bear fruits, he comes back, day after day and year after year, with the same stubborn hope that he will finally see us bear fruits. For, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Tim 2:13) To us too, through the intervention of Jesus, “who is always to make...
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