Synopsis: Lk. 13:1-9
At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on the—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"
And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?' He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"
Homily of the Celebrant: Fr. Doroteo “Teody” Andres
The homily started with the rundown of the last two weeks’ Gospels—of Jesus’ temptation, and of the Transfiguration.
Then, he made the point about the First Reading (Ex. 3:1-15), where Moses was called by God being the Burning Bush and revealing His Name: “I AM WHO AM”—no past, nor present, nor future. The Gospel, on the other hand, the people who are listening to Jesus are asking if the people who were slain by Pilate and were crushed by the falling tower of Siloam were sinners. Jesus may say they are, but they are not (Point: not because someone is in a situation where catastrophe and turmoil is relevant and imminent, it does not mean that those who died are deserving to die—IJR). On the contrary, if we continue the book of Exodus, we would clearly see that there are some Israelites that were not following Moses at all, and they deserted him, in Filipino, reklamo sila ng reklamo. One example of this argument was the Haiti and Chile quakes; the priest said, were they sinful? Not necessarily. In fact, it helps us to get closer to God. There comes a time that we become frustrated that we come to a time we abuse our lives (which is God’s gift for us), which leads to death; it much more resembles the story of the Prodigal Son. The celebrant concluded, man just have to renew his self spiritually, like an old watch that still ticks because of a new battery.
The Burning Bush and the Fig Tree: Symbols of God’s Greatness and Man’s Sinfulness
We say every time we have done something pleasing to our eyes, we say that our endeavors are “fruitful.” We also say whenever we will be experiencing an “epic fail,” we tend to go crazy until we see the situation crash and burn. My reaction for this situation is simple: the Holy Spirit is that fire coming down from the bush without consuming it. This means, God will put our hearts on fire—of passion for Truth, of courage to face the Truth and fight with it, and of love for Truth. His manifestation to Moses only reveals that He wants to be known as the God of second chances, which is substantiated in Jesus’ parable in that Gospel, where He represents the Gardener with His Father as Owner.
We see in the context of the Gospel that God lets us bear fruit so that we would be retained in His Garden. But if we dig deeper and analyze the message, He is doing everything we could ever imagine, and even beyond, just so we bear fruit. We should then do our part. We have been nourished by love and armored by truth; it is now our responsibility to fight as warriors of Christ, and for Christ, and serve Him rightly as His stewards.
By this end, I would like to conclude this with a hypothetical statement: If we are all fig trees, we should not wait for the Owner of the Garden, who planted us, to cut us down and wither with no remorse; before He even notices our counter-productivity, which He actually knows in the first place, we must take action and bear fruit for Him.