A Time to Change

This coming Sunday’s gospel is very challenging! Jesus is listening to people sharing the latest news – it’s all tragic – and they are blaming the victims, something common in those days and in that culture. But Jesus waves that judgment aside and instead admonishes the crowd to consider their own sins.

Without using the same words as the crowd in Jesus’s time, we also tend to blame the poor for their poverty. This is evident in the recent general response to “Black Lives Matter” activists. It is just too big of a challenge to consider changing the harsh living conditions, the poor educational system, and grossly unfair system of “justice” that doom the lives of so many. It’s simply easier to blame the victim.

But Jesus dismisses that attitude: don’t consider the faults of others, focus on what you can do. “But I tell you to repent,” he says, meaning: change your ways, do something!

Jesus continues with the story of the fig tree, which demonstrates God’s patience and mercy. Patience is necessary. But it is cautionary because much more is implied. It suggests a time of reckoning. Patience, in fact, awaits growth, with the expectation that tree “will bear fruit.”

But what is the fruit God desires? Pope Francis suggests God wants us to give the ones in need the extra clothes we have in our closets and the savings from not purchasing unnecessary “stuff” and finding homes for the homeless.

God is patient and supportive of us as we grow attentive to the needs of others. God gives us grace, all that is required is “yes.” God wants us to bear fruit.

Getting there, however, is not something that happens automatically. The garden of our soul needs tending and pruning. And, God knows, there’s lots in our lives that needs clearing and emptying.

It all begins with recognizing our own personal faults and our faults as a society. This takes patience and perseverance. Change does not come easily, and it is a struggle to break free of material things and the habits we have developed. Yet, because Jesus’s road to the crucifixion was not easy, we know that God understands our struggles.

While the challenge to help others and change our society is urgent, we also need to be patient with ourselves and each other. God’s grace is at work within us, helping to overcome our alienation from God and others.

And we live in the confidence of the Resurrection.