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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 13, 1-9

It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them,

'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them?

They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.

Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell, killing them all? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem?

They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.'

He told this parable, 'A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none.

He said to his vinedresser, "For three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?"

"Sir," the man replied, "leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it:

it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus has just finished talking to the crowd when a person mentions the bloodshed that Pilate ordered against a few Jews who may have tried to instigate an insurrection. This example gives him the opportunity to explain that the evil or disgraces that befall people are not direct consequences of their sins. Jesus makes it clear that it would be wrong to conclude that the Jews who died in this slaughter were guiltier than those who were spared. In an effort to clarify his point even further, he refers to another event that looks more like a natural disaster: that is when the tower of Siloam fell killing several people. God is not the one who sends evil or allows disasters and bloodshed to happen, even if with a pedagogical intent. The God that Jesus came to reveal us does not act that way. On the contrary, from the beginning our Father in Heaven has been fighting against evil, since the time when the prince of brute violence appeared in the human story. The Lord asks all men and women and to the disciples of the Gospel in particular to get involved in this hard battle against evil and against the prince of evil who never ceases to push creatures toward their own destruction. Hence the call to conversion, that is, to following the Gospel with all our hearts and strength so as to stay close to Jesus who came into this world to drive out evil and bring freedom and salvation to all and even to creation itself. The short parable that Jesus adds to his explanation shows the value of intercession. So many times we are confronted with situations that appear difficult to change or that despite our efforts, remain more or less the same. They are like that fig tree mentioned in the Gospel that bears no fruit. For three years, the master tried to get fruit from it, but never found any. Frustrated, he goes to the gardener and tells him to cut it down so that it will not exhaust the soil for no use. The language of the parable is not asking us to strictly identify the attitude of the master with that of God. Rather, we need to recognize that we share the master’s frustration: how many times do we act like him, with a narrow-minded heart like small, cruel, uncaring bosses, deprived of love and understanding! How many times in order to uphold truth we become blind and obstinately cruel servants of the prince of evil! The gardener who has been by that little fig tree has learned to love it and asks the master to let him dig and fertilize the soil around it; he is sure that the fig tree will bear fruit after all. Jesus exhorts us to have patience, that is to continue to stand by the fig tree and to surround it with care so that in its own time, it will bear fruit. We need to learn from the patience of God who knows how to hope in everyone, who does not extinguish a smouldering wick, who accompanies and takes care of the weak so that they may be strengthened and bring a contribution of love.

Sunday Vigil