March 14, 2004  3rd Sunday of Lent  (C)  Luke 13: 1-9


Where are you going?  How are you going to get there? Of the four gospels, only Luke emphasizes that Jesus in his ministry had definite travel plans.  Jesus’ destination was Jerusalem.  His itinerary began in Galilee and proceeded rather directly to his destination--Jerusalem.


            Remember how when you were a child and how you felt when your parents said:  “If you don’t pick up your toys, you will be sorry!”  And from the anguished look on your mother’s face, you knew there would be some dire consequences.  For example, being evicted from one’s home and forced to live in a pen with smelly pigs.


As Jesus proceeds on the road to Jerusalem here in chapters 12:1 to 13: 9, Jesus exhorts and warns the “crowds” and we members of St. Patrick’s community: “Should you act in such and such a manner, you will be sorry!”


And so that no one will this lesson, Jesus tells a sentimental parable that will be easy for all of us to remember.  St. Luke only gives us the bare bones of the parable. But when Jesus told this parable, he must have told it with many more details and delightful descriptions.  And to the listeners it was like watching a gripping Disney cartoon.


According to Jesus, there was this fig tree.  The fig tree lived in a tiny vineyard.  There was just room for one tree. The tree had a nice servant who loved him, took care of him and gave him a nickname--Figgy.  All day long Figgy basked in the sun, breathed the clean air, drank clean fresh water and nourished himself on fresh cow manure. 


But Figgy wasn’t quite satisfied.  He dreamed of being transplanted to a nearby vineyard.  And there he would begin producing big, juicy and delicious figs.


Now fig trees are expected to produce some fruit during their third year.  But not Figgy.  After three years he didn’t produce one fig.  He was just too busy feeling sorry for himself and daydreaming about being transplanted.


Then one day the owner was hungry and came to the little vineyard to pick some figs.  But Figgy didn’t have even one fig.  So the owner said to his servant: “This tree is just occupying space.  Cut it down and plant another.”  Well the servant was heartbroken and he wiped the tear that fell from his eye with his dirty sleeve. Even though Figgy was lazy and always complaining, the servant had really grown to love Figgy and he said: “Please, boss, leave it one more year and in my spare time I will dig round it and manure it. And next year Figgy will produce juicy figs the size of watermelons.”  [Here the homilist should gulp with emotion.] So the owner says:  “And if it doesn’t bear fruit, then what?” The servant said sadly:  “If not, you can cut it down.” (“You”: the servant loved Figgy so much that he could never do the chopping himself.)


So Figgy said: “I guess I have to start producing some figs within the next twelve months right here on the ground I am now occupying?  Or else…”


I guess I don’t have to explain this parable.  I see some of your hair standing up in utter horror. [My hair isn’t standing up in utter horror for obvious reasons.]




            Figgy represents each Christian gathered here this morning. The sentimental servant is God the Father who does everything to help each one of us to live fruitful lives. Figgy also represents St. Patrick’s community gathered here this morning. God the Father loves our community. And certainly our response to such loving care is to produce luscious fruit.


            But I see Mr. Wong smirking cynically:  “I am not a tree.  I can’t produce figs.”  Well, St. Paul in Galatians  (Gal 5:22-23) lists types of fruit that a Christian and whole Christian communities produce  “…the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity.”




 This morning’s question is: “In what geographical location do I produce figs?”


Like Figgy sometimes Christians say: “If only I was someplace else, had a different family, a different job, a different boss, a different wife, different parents, a different parish community, then I could produce lots of fruit.”


But most of us Christians here have to produce fruit right here where we are.


During Lent, we ask ourselves:  “Am I producing fruit, or am I like Figgy—just occupying space?” 


In my home, do my family, my neighbors, those who come to my door, get nourishment in the form of  “love, joy, peace patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity?”


            Mr. Wong works in a busy office.  But when people pass his desk they feel a sense of joy and peace.   Mr. Wong’s desk is his vineyard where he produces fruits of joy and peace.


            When people visit Mrs. Chau’s home and see the way see she cares of her irascible mother-in-law, they are moved by her patient endurance.  Mrs. Chau ‘s vineyard is her own home where she produces the fruit of patient endurance.  When her neighbors return home they also treat their elderly with a little more patience.


What is keeping me from producing fruit like this?  If you don’t know, discuss it with your husband, your wife, your children, your parents, a friend, or one of the Catholics sitting next to you in the Church this morning.  Let’s do it right now!


      This Church-school building is the vineyard of our St. Patrick’s community.  Our outside bulletin board, our tiny shrine, our greeting hall, garden, our school, playground, foyer is our vineyard.  This is the place where each Sunday morning St. Patrick’s community sets above producing figs.  On Sunday mornings we don’t just occupy space.  We produce fruits.


I am sure that all of you hope that at the end of the third year, Figgy started producing juicy luscious figs and the gardener didn’t have to call the ax men. And we also hope that the end of this Lenten season, each of us will likewise produce fruit and will not one day get the ax.




  I would suggest that you choose one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that you are going to work on this week: “love, joy, peace patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity.” When you have chosen one of these fruits, please stand up and recite the Creed.


GRAND FINALE [End of Mass]


Raise your right hand, if you feel that you are just “occupying space” and expect to be “cut down.” 





March 14, 2004  3rd Sunday of Lent  (C)  Luke 13: 1-9






THEME:  The Christian and the Christian community produce fruit in his/he/its vineyard in preparation for the day of reckoning.


The circumstances of our life ordinarily determine the place in which we produce and share the fruits of the Holy Spirit.


TEXT: “Sir, leave it another year, while I hoe around it and manure it; then perhaps it

will bear fruit.  If not, it shall be cut down.”


“…the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity.” (Gal 5:22-23)




“The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.  The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: ‘charity, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.’” (Gal 5:22-23)  Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994),  #1832, p. 451.


Chewing, Digesting and Practicing God’s Word

March 14, 2004  3rd Sunday of Lent  (C)  Luke 13: 1-9


nAME_________   GRADE __________


1.       Luke’s gospel 12:1 – 13: 1-9 deals with ex__________ns and w_______ings.

2.       How many years were required before a good fig tree produced fruit?  ___ years.

3.       Which three fruits of the Holy Spirit would you personally like to produce this week?

a. ______________   b. ______________   c. ____________.

4.       In what vineyard (geographic location) will you produce these fruits?   ____________

5.   (Optional) Could you produce more fruit in another location? Why? Why not?


(Hint: examples, experiences, exhortations, warnings, ten, three, two )