Sometimes when I sit in Adoration and read the gospels, I have random thoughts about a particular sentence. This happened when I was reading Mark 11:12 about Jesus cursing the fig tree and came upon, “Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs.” The part that jumped out at me was the fact that Mark clearly states that figs were not in season. It wasn’t there time. So, naturally, my next thought was, “what did Jesus expect to find on a fig tree if it wasn’t time for that tree to bear fruit?” I thought it strange, harsh actually, that Jesus would curse the tree when there would have been no reasonable explanation for a fig tree having figs if figs weren’t in season.
The next day, I talked to a friend who is a wealth of Catholic knowledge. I asked him my question about Jesus cursing the fig tree to which he replied, “Oh! That’s a really rich story with a lot packed in.” Great, but I just wanted the answer to my question about why Jesus would be mad at a tree that had no business having fruit at that time of year. He proceeded to point out that the fig tree represented Israel, and that as Jesus was approaching his Passion, His people weren’t producing fruit, etc. It was great information, but I sat impatiently waiting for my answer. When he finished, with my foot tapping, I asked my question again. He responded, “When one thing sticks in your head like that, you should really just pray about it.” Ugh.
I asked God to enlighten me and re-read the passage. The first thing that struck me this time was a sense of fear. Am I producing fruit constantly or could Jesus stop by and find my barren at any given moment? Sure, I think there are times when my life bears fruit and I’m growing in faith and deepened my commitment to the Lord. These are the seasons where I feel energized and engaged and active in living
the gospels. Then there are other times in my life when I’m not. In these seasons, I am struggling to pray and I feel far from God and I know I’m not moving forward one bit in my relationship with Jesus. In these moments I’m weak and barely hanging on and I have no figs. What if Jesus is hungry when I’m not in season?
As my thoughts started to spin out, the good Lord quickly rescued me. In my heart, I felt like I was beginning to understand what He wanted me to get at that moment from that Scripture. Don’t ever let your tree be empty, produce something. Even when you’re weary and worn and it’s not your season, don’t just shut down, produce at least one fig. Though it may feel temporarily empty, persevere in prayer, keep reading Scripture, continue receiving sacraments! When God is allowing you to be pruned back, it’s only in anticipation of a season of fullness. Maintain your efforts, keep the faith and you’ll soon find you’re in full bloom!
Michelle lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and two kids. She is a cradle Catholic and runs a small business. Michelle is slightly obsessed with St. Padre Pio and 80s music.