Saint for the day: Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
Ephesians 4:7-17 – Psalm 122 – Luke 13:1-9
“Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift: some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:7ff)
It’s not always that the selected scripture passages for a given liturgy all fit together as well as they do today. I could almost start with the passage quoted above, from the first reading and let the psalm refrain, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” be our bridge to the Holy Gospel which ends with a parable about the barren fig tree. The owner is frustrated and doesn’t want to waste any more time and energy on something that appears useless. But the gardener pleads with the owner to let him work with it a little; gently tending to it with cultivation and fertilizer. That’s a wonderful “bottom line reminder” of how gentle and loving our God is. Always willing to go the extra mile to give us the chance to reform our lives and become fruitful. Then, the passage that I quoted above, from the Letter to the Ephesians, is the qualifying thought that we don’t have to be all things to everyone. But we need to at least be something to someone. The parable of the Talents immediately comes to my mind: the king wasn’t expecting that each of the three subjects would come back with the “hundred fold” and he was even willing to lower the bar enough so that the last one would at least be welcome back with even the tiniest gain from interest. The problem that most of us fall into is the thinking that we have to all become the greatest – whatever – when all the Lord really wants is for us to allow him to at least see that His grace moved us – even just a little – closer to His love. Next time you catch yourself thinking that you have fallen short of the glory of God stop for a moment and try to see if you have any recollection of God ever lining you up against others to judge you by their standards. It doesn’t take much to please this God of ours if we are honest in our efforts to let His grace flower in our lives. You might have to deal with a little bit of … how shall I say … manure … but that’s what causes you to grow and flourish in His love. Amen!