Generosity: The “Fruit” of Life
3rd Sunday of Lent
Many of us love certain “bad” foods or habits (smoking/drinking), and, often, we laugh off the danger and say “we have to die of something”. However, if we suddenly receive information that it is killing us quickly, we will change our lives because we want to LIVE.
In our Gospel, today, Jesus is reminding us of the same thing regarding our spiritual lives. Sin will destroy us (not God, but sin). However, the Gospel is a bit tricky:
“Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree…” and “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it:…”
Many of us live as though we are somewhere in the three year period, always hoping or expecting that God will give us another chance if He “catches us”.
Jesus tries to send that message to us today by recalling the disasters that killed many people 2,000 years ago. In recent days we have heard about the terrible shooting in New Zealand, the sad aircraft crash in Ethiopia.
It reminds us to be ready, a disaster can happen any time: they don’t happen to destroy bad people. But anyone can die at any moment. Are we ready? Are our relationships in order?
St Paul reminds us of this in the Second Reading where he recalls the dead Israelites who turned against God and perished. It’s not that God killed them, but their behaviour.
And this brings us to the critical question: what behaviour separates us from God and causes us to die? Let’s look at the Gospel: the fig tree was not producing any fruit.
Trees produce fruit that, seemingly, do not benefit them. The fruit is taken by other people and consumed by them. Nobody comes back to say thank you to the tree. This is true self-less-ness. Of course, we know the tree also puts seeds in its fruit, so the consumer deposits the seeds in other places and the tree lives on! It has life. The tree that produces no fruit, also produces no seeds to continue new life later on. So, it dies and is lost forever.
And this is the model that Jesus wants us to reflect on. The only fruit we need to produce is GENEROSITY. Our generosity to others also gives life to ourselves. When we feel lonely, it’s often because of our lack of generosity to others.
So, the solution is simple: help others, listen to others, be available for others, and share with others. These are the spiritual fruits that give life.
For that reason, I like to boast about our Oblate youth in Nairobi who are busy supporting each other, visiting orphanages and aged care homes, and yet they have very little for themselves.
These youth are happy people, and I know many doors will open for them, to help them become successful, because of their generosity.
SIN is simply selfishness. Selfish people end up lonely, and lost, because people are afraid to stay close to them in case they suck all the goodness out of us as well.
In our First Reading we see the importance of generosity, when Moses agreed to give his time to help the people of Egypt escape from Pharoah. It’s a timely reminder that God helps the world through people like you and I. The question is: are we generous enough to say YES?
The world we have tomorrow, depends on what we do today. And, before we criticise our politicians, we should ask ourselves: what public service am I doing?
Leadership is not easy. Yes, we should challenge our leaders, but we should also cooperate to make our society a better place.
As someone wisely said: we can be part of the solution or we will be part of the problem.
This week, let us stop and reflect on what “fruits” I produce as a member
of my family,
of my work place,
of my community.
I pray we can all find a way to improve the quality and quantity of our “fruits” so that we may have a truly happy life.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI