By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 8, sir, let it alone for one more year
We know that in this parable Jesus is talking metaphorically about his contemporaries, people not plants. Therefore, we hear the language of ‘cutting off’ and get uncomfortable. We hear it harshly, in part, because too many of our preachers have hurled hellfire and brimstone from the pulpit and we witness violence committed in the name of that which is holy. We are right to shudder in the face of the suggestion that we might be cut off by God. However, this passage can also be seen to describe God’s impractical and foolishly hopeful mercy. Despite God’s patience, our covenantal relationship with God has failed to bear the fruit of faithfulness. As all hope seems to fail, the gardener pleads for just one more season—for the figs and for the fruitfulness of our lives. He asks permission to do even more than he had done before; he wants to go to even more extravagant lengths to nurture this relationship. This is the mercy of God that awaits our repentance. As one of the members of our community said long ago, ‘God wants me to live.’ God wants all of us to live. Let us turn with all of our hearts toward life and produce the fruit of a faithful and covenantal relationship, showing faithfulness and mercy and justice to everyone.
Prayer God, so patient, thank you for the mercy that leads me to turn toward you.