Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the Lord speaking about the parable of the fig tree, which told us about a fig tree that was found to be barren and without fruits, and when the owner of the fig tree wanted to cut it down and dispose of it, the gardener asked for the fig tree to be given a second chance, where he would give it more fertilisers and help, hoping that it will bear fruit this time round, or else it will be destroyed.
This is coupled with what Jesus our Lord spoke about the sinfulness of the people of God, how the Jews liked to look down on the Galileans and the other Gentiles for their supposed inferiority in the sight of God, as they considered themselves as justified and saved, while the others were destined for condemnation. For God, there is nothing such as that, as all are equal in the presence of God, regardless of their race, their background and their origins.
God does not discriminate against any of us, just as all of us are equally sinners before Him, for we have all committed sin in one form or another in our lives on earth, and through our sins, we have been made truly barren and fruitless, that is no good fruits of faith and fruits of the Spirit can be found in us. What are these fruits? Hope, love, charity, chastity, and many others, all the good things that are expected to be in us, and yet we have fallen short of having these in our lives.
And when none of these can be found in our lives, how can we then be good and useful to the Lord our God? Our Lord indeed loves all of us, but He also equally hates and despises all of our sins and wickedness without exception. Just like the master or owner of the plantation, who wants the barren fig tree to be chopped off and destroyed. After all, if a tree has no fruit, what can the tree be useful for? Rather than keeping the tree to take up space on a fertile land, another tree should be planted in its place.
That barren and fruitless tree is just like us. If we are filled with sin and wickedness, then definitely we cannot find a place for us in the presence of God. The Lord will not receive us or bless us, for our sins and wickedness are abhorring to Him. Instead, we shall be rejected and cast out into the outer darkness. Only goodness and worthy things can come into the presence of our Lord. And these are the fruits of our labours in faith.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to heed what St. Paul also mentioned in the first reading today, that is his letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome, that we should not succumb ourselves to the way of the flesh, but instead walk faithfully in the path that our Lord had shown us through Jesus. We are creatures of the Light, belonging to God, and yet our attachment to the desires of the flesh and of this world held us back from attaining salvation in the Lord.
It is by resisting and learning to reject these temptations that we will be able to gain fruitfulness in life. If we want to bear fruits of the Spirit, and the fruits of our faith, then it is necessary for us to labour and do hard work, so that in all the things that we do, we uphold as best as possible, and as far as possible, the way of the Lord, and obey the Law of God in all of its entirety.
Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, known also as the founder of the congregation of religious bearing his name, that is the Claretians. He was a great missionary who spent many years in preaching and ministering to the people on the truth and the teachings of the Lord as espoused by the Church. He revealed to many of the people who have yet to hear the word of God, or have gone wayward in their lives, and helped to bring them to return to the Church.
St. Anthony Mary Claret went on to establish the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as the Claretians after their founder, which he established to continue the missionary and evangelising work that he had done. And he continued on to preach and work hard for the sake of the salvation of many peoples, even when his life was at time threatened and in danger.
The examples shown by St. Anthony Mary Claret are clear indications of what all of us can also do for the benefit of all those who have been trapped in the shackles of sin. It is our duty to help each other, that we help those who have not borne good fruits of faith and were barren, that by the grace and love of God, we may regrow healthily in faith, and in our actions and deeds, may they be filled with many rich fruits of the Holy Spirit, that is love, hope, chastity, honesty and many others.
Let us all commit ourselves to accept God’s generous offer of mercy, His willingness like the master of the plantation to give a chance to the barren fig tree, representing our sinfulness and wickedness, so that by realigning ourselves and by obediently walking in His way, we may be found bountiful and filled with rich fruits that will justify us and bring us to salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless us all. Amen.