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First Law of Gardening
Topic Started: Mar 7 2010, 09:42 AM (474 Views)
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"Sir, leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year" (Luke 13:8,9).

Exodus 3:1-8,13-15; Psalms 103:1-4,6-8-11; I Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12; Luke 13:1-9

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who, in an outburst of temper, shouted to his mother: "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" Then, fearing punishment, he ran up into the hillside where he shouted into the valley: "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" And back from the valley came the echo: "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" This startled the boy, and he ran back to the house and told his mother that a mean voice was coming out of the valley shouting "I hate you." Whereupon, his mother took him to the hillside and told him to shout, "I love you! I love you! I love you!" And when he did, the boy heard the voice from the valley respond: "I love you! I love you! I love you!"

What we give is what we get. What we reap is what we sow. The fruit we bear will be returned to us in abundance.

The Apostle Paul knew the Law of Gardening:"Don't delude yourself into thinking God can be cheated," he said, "Where a man sows, there he reaps ... if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life. We must never get tired of doing good because if we don't give up the struggle we shall get our harvest at the proper time. While we have the chance, we must do good to all, and especially to our brothers in the faith" (Gal. 6:7-10).

God gave Adam and Eve the vocation of being gardeners, and all of us have inherited that primal vocation. Every thought is a seed that will someday grow into a plant which in turn will bear fruit in due time. Plant seeds of anger and you will grow anger. Plants seeds of bigotry and you will grow bigotry. Plant seeds of vengeance and you will grow vengeance. Plant seeds of greed and you will grow greed. Plant seeds of selfishness and you will grow selfishness. Plant seeds of betrayal and you will grow betrayal. Plant seeds of envy and you will grow envy.

In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus presents us with the parable of a fig tree that is not bearing fruit. The owner of the vineyard says to the vinedresser, "Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down." To which the vinedresser replies, "Sir, leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year" (Lk. 13:8,9).

In the "Parable of the Fig Tree," Jesus seems to be assuring us that while repentance is a matter of spiritual life and death, nevertheless the Lord is patient. He doesn't call us to repentance, saying, "You can only do this once" or "You can only do this twice." Rather, He continuously calls us to reform, to change, to do better, to try harder.

Better still, He helps us to meet the conditions required for a return to Grace. Like the attentive vinedresser, He provides us with the nourishment we need for spiritual growth.

For many, repentance is a word that belongs to yesterday. It's one of those slippery words. We hear the word and we speak the word without attaching any real meaning to it.

For some, there is a vague understanding of repentance as something that is done when one is caught. But repentance is far more than blurting out "I'm sorry" when one gets caught doing something deemed wrong by conventional society.

For some, there is a vague understanding of repentance as the act of turning back to God after having turned away from Him.

For some, there is a vague understanding of repentance as involving a change in attitude or a change of mind or turning over a new leaf. And there are elements of truth in such notions.

The Gospel truth is that genuine repentance means much more than changing one's mind or feeling sorry for one's sins or telling God we are on His side again. Fruit-bearing is the sign of true repentance.

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Amen and Amen.
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