This week’s gospel of the fig tree which bears no fruit but is spared another year invites us to take a moment to reflect at the midpoint of our Lenten journey. How is our Lent bearing fruit?
Perhaps this Lent isn’t turning out how we hoped it would: we haven’t devoted the time for prayer we planned, or we haven’t been able to keep certain promises. Maybe we haven’t been able to fully enter into Lent this year. “Come back to me, with all of your heart,” our Lord beckons. “We will,” we respond, but we still aren’t quite ready yet, we are afraid; we feel stuck; our hearts are not yet prepared…
The Good News is that Jesus tells us that it is never too late to begin, or begin again.
Jesus, the gardener, is patient with us: he lovingly ‘cultivates’ and ‘fertilizes’ our ground, inviting us into an awareness of our human failings (breaking up the hard soil around our roots), while gracing us in small and unexpected ways (enriching our soil). At times this Lent we will become discouraged and might be tempted to let go of our desire to grow closer to God. We may ask ourselves “Why should I bother?” echoing the orchard owner, “Cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?”
Jesus’ story reminds us that we may give up on ourselves, we often give up on others, but that God will never give up on us. For we, too, are planted on holy ground.
From the first day of Lent, God’s call to us is clear: “Return to me with all your heart.” Accepting this call is simple if we can only move beyond our fear and embrace our deepest desire to be with the One who loves us. All we have to do is say, “Here I am Lord. Where do I start? I want to be with you.” Then will our Lent bear fruit. Let this be the day our blossoming begins.
Christine Curran is Regional Director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in Chicago.