Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lessons from the Fig Tree

But I tell you if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did" Luke 13:1-9

    Reflection by Kristen Daniels, St. Joseph Worker Program Alumna

    
    Today’s Gospel is one of the more applicable parables for those volunteering. The parable calls to mind one of my most difficult clients during my year as a St. Joseph Worker. He could have easily been the barren fig tree, just as easily as I could’ve been the man eager to cut down that tree. At every turn we were met with what seemed like insurmountable barriers to achieving stable housing. There were so many times I became disappointed, frustrated, and eager to throw in the towel. 

It took me what seems like an impossible amount of time to learn and apply the true meaning of today’s Gospel. When Jesus was telling the parable he made it clear that fruit takes time, tilling, and tending. Or in case management terms: patience, cultivation, and compassion. I was never there to judge; I was there to walk with my client and give him the tools necessary to find his own version of success, on his own terms. 

In the end, my client wasn’t anywhere near my original expectations. Rather he enjoyed more success than I could ever have imagined possible. God has a much better view from where He is. He can see the whole picture where we can’t. He knows what each of us is fully capable of and what works is being done behind the scenes. As we continue to serve others both in our volunteer year and beyond, let us remember to trust in God’s mighty and wondrous plans.


Prayer
Ever merciful and loving God, 

You always see my full potential, even when I can’t. May I
 always trust in the grand design You have for me. As 
I place my utmost trust in You, I leave my expectations
 and my timelines at Your holy feet, especially when I 
find it most difficult. Lord I thank You for entrusting 
me with being an instrument of Your unending love and 
compassion. As I always seek to emulate Your patience and
 compassion, let me come to Your people with no agendas 
but Your own. 

Amen.


Focus on: Community 

In this Gospel, God is asking us for patience, compassion and understanding with those around us. While this lesson can certainly be applied to our daily ministries, it is often more difficult to extend that grace to those closest to us. What expectations (good or bad) do you bring to your community? Are any of these expectations affecting your relationships with those around you? Do you see yourself giving up on others or yourself when you do not meet these expectations? If you feel comfortable, these questions may be a great discussion starter among your community.


Service Suggestion:


The fig tree can be a very real representation of how today’s society values certain people. Society is quick to dismiss and give-up on those who are experiencing homelessness, facing addictions, have been incarcerated, among other experiences. How is God calling you to protect and cultivate our brothers and sisters in Christ? How is God calling you to stand up for those who are deemed barren and unfruitful? Consider smaller actions such as talking to a person you pass on the streets that is experiencing homelessness or writing a letter to a person who is incarcerated.



This reflection is part of our Lenten Series - Download the Lenten Guide Here