29th Saturday (23 Oct 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Note To Self
It’s early, so I’m going to hint at Jesus’ meaning so we can apply it in our lives. I’m going to ask you two easy questions: easy because it’s early, yet I ask them to help us apply the gospel to us. Ready? The gospel selection presented headlines from Jesus’ day and his parable in response. In his parable a person who had a [fruitless] fig tree had in mind and gave the order to cut it down. In Jesus’ parable was the tree cut down? Correct! It was not. You’re half way.
If the person had in mind to cut it down, what did the person do with his mind? It’s early, I know. The person’s mind moved in one direction, cut it down. Did the person continue in that direction, cut it down? Exactly! You brought us all the way. That was Jesus point: change your minds, your point of view, your way of considering. That’s precisely what the original hearers of the gospel heard. We have come to translate that with the word repent.
To repent as Jesus proclaimed and invited people meant more than what it first means to us. We hear repent, and think Lent or penance for sin. Sorrow for sin with a desire to live differently is included in changing the direction of our minds and our hearts. Life-direction changes are challenging, even threatening, because we risk living differently.
Our minds and our hearts, which shape our minds and often lead them, give birth to our points of view, to our outlooks and attitudes, to our dispositions and they establish how we act on our viewpoints, our outlooks, our dispositions, our attitudes and our biases.
The Palestinian headline about Pilate’s violent mocking of sacrifice set people darting about comparing the dead with other sinners. It was their point of view. The headline about the tragic death of people, who died suddenly and without warning, Jesus added to show how people blessed with living did well not to move blindly through life. Jesus offered his parable to jolt people awake to see that living not blindly but in a discerning fashion was the way into the kingdom Jesus announced by his life and actions.
Changing directions, changing our minds and hearts never ends, not because we are deficient but because forces always try to move us away from the kingdom and from one another. When you and I sift through our ways of looking at others and the world, and when we notice which of them gives life rather than prevents it, which of them adds to life rather than limits it, which of them contributes life rather than drains it: when we sift through our ways and act on the ways in harmony with Jesus’ good news, that’s how we keep responding to Jesus’ call and continue becoming kingdom-people, who build up the Body of Christ...in love.
Wiki-image of an etching illustrating Jesus' parable of the fig tree is in the public domain.