Eph 4:7-16; Ps 122:1,2, 3,4ab, 4cd,5; Lk 13:1-9
The only way to go is to go rejoicing. The only way to travel along the way of the LORD is to travel with song and dancing within our hearts and even in our feet. When we hear the invitation of the saints: “We will go up to the house of the LORD.” We are summoned to follow in the Way of the Cross. We are called to walk in the footsteps of the Master who knew that to go up the Jerusalem was to go up to offer the perfect sacrifice of praise. This New Jerusalem is a holy city built with the intimacy of the Holy Spirit. To it the tribes go up all the people who acclaim the LORD, the true king of Israel. This movement into the future glory is the fulfillment of the decree for Israel to gather and give thanks to the Name of the LORD. Here in this place of the gathering are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David, the man after God’s own heart. Saint Paul translates this “city metaphor” into a “body metaphor” in his preaching to the Church of Ephesus. Indeed, we are both a holy city and the Body of Christ. We are united in the Holy Spirit for the praise and glory of Our Father in heaven, our only lasting home. The Lord Jesus uses a “garden metaphor” to reveal how completely he is willing to give himself for our growth in holiness—every drop of blood and water—is not too much for us. Only in the Eucharist do we give and receive the perfect sacrifice of praise, worthy of his love and devotion for us.
The grace, that is necessary for our maturation in Christ, is given by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God knows what is best for each member of the Body. The Lord Christ has taken us captive and from the lower regions of the earth He gathers us up and ascends into the glory of the New Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit fills all things and fulfills our deepest desire. We, who hunger and thirst for holiness, are filled and satiated only by the grace of Christ. The gifts are given to each for the good of all. Some are given as Apostles so that we can build of life of faith upon a solid foundation. Some are given as evangelists so that we can hear and respond to the Living Word that cuts like a sword between the bone and the marrow of our discernment. Others are pastors and teachers so that we are equipped for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ. Only then will we attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Only then will we mature in to the full stature of Christ. No longer can we be satisfied with living on the surface; we long for the abundant life promised us. No longer can we rest secure in the habits of sin and vice; we have a deep desire for union with Christ. This transforming union is the normal, mature Christian life. All of us baptized into Christ are summoned to living the truth in love. All of us believers are summoned to grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ. All of us who take prayer seriously are joined together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part. Only this will bring about the Body’s growth, and only then will we be built up in love.
Before the Lord Jesus told the parable in today’s gospel, where did you think he was going? Perhaps it seem like he was trying to answer the question we often express this way: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Actually, he refuses to answer that question. The Galileans were killed because Pilate wanted to achieve some political goal. Those crushed by the tower of Siloam were killed because of a freak accident. There is no easy explanation for “physical evil.” The Lord Jesus used these two examples from the news of his day to simply summon his listeners to repent. Even more so, this crowd was warned to stop thinking of themselves to be better human beings because they did not suffer in these ways. They may have been even more painful events ahead of each of those who gathered around the Lord that day. Then comes the good news, and it’s in the parable. The gardener says to the orchard owner like Jesus says to the Father with his whole life and ministry. “Father, let me pour my life upon the cross and pour out the Spirit upon this fig tree of yours, then it will bear fruit.” We are the fig trees. This is our grace-filled, Spirit-filled opportunity! If we do not bear fruit this time, will there be another opportunity?