Today’s readings, when distilled down, point to one thing. In order to live fully with God we must live a life pleasing to him. Our first reading from Revelation reveals to us the promises God offers when we chose to walk with him – we are promised an eternal life near him. And a few lucky folks will walk with Jesus for the thousand years! This figure is not to be taken literally my friends, we are simply to understand that Jesus will walk the earth for a very long time once all this happens. All great stuff!
However, we must keep in mind that each and every one of us will be judged justly for our deeds – good and bad. And, unfortunately, not everyone’s name will be found in the book of life. Thank goodness for God’s grace, mercy and the gift of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Our names can be found in the book of life and we can live with our God. Yet, we must chose to walk with him. So where can things go wrong? How can we fall short of such a promise? Our Gospel has a clue – the fig tree.
The Fig Tree
In order to understand what is going on in today’s Gospel we must understand what the fig tree represented in Jesus’ time and what the word “curse” means. The fig tree represented the spiritual deadness of Israel. And the word curse here is derived from the same word as “judgement.” So Jesus was speaking judgement over Israel as a result of their spiritual deadness.
In Palestine plants will first burst forth with blooms, and after this the leaves would follow. Sadly, this fig tree didn’t have any blooms, and as any gardener will know, this means that it is barren and it will not produce fruit. On this day, just a few days prior to his Crucifixion, Jesus was revealing that Israel had become spiritually barren and it was therefore unable to produce spiritual fruits. We can only imagine how mush this pained Jesus.
So how can we become spiritually fertile? How can we walk with God and participate with him in his divine plan for redemption? First, we must accept that Jesus is fully God and fully man. Secondly, we must actively follow him. I believe the most beautiful way to actively follow Jesus is to grow in our capacity to forgive and love others. As we grow in love and forgiveness our hearts become more like the heart of Jesus. I believe starting with the people closest to us, our family members, is a good place to start.
What Forgiveness is and What it is Not
To begin, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness is not about the person who has hurt you, and it is not something you give to another. Yes, by extending forgiveness, the one who has harmed you will benefit in some way because they will receive forgiveness and love from you instead of unforgiveness and anger. This is God’s will, my friend. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus called you to do when he told you to love your brother as yourself? By extending forgiveness, it is your heart that becomes more Christ-like as you model Christ for others to see. Further, by embracing forgiveness, you must face your sinful part in the relationship—even if your only sin is holding unforgiveness in your heart. Once you surrender to forgiveness, you open yourself to God’s mercy and aid. Harboring unforgiveness takes a lot of energy—energy you could use in areas of your life that offer fulfillment and happiness.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight.
– Psalm 51:3-4
Remember, forgiveness does not give another person permission to hurt you again. If someone is hurting you, then you become the victim, and they become the wrongdoer. In both cases, neither person is living a life fully alive as God intends. God doesn’t want you to be a victim any more than he wants the other to be the wrongdoer. Sometimes the best thing we can do for the one who is harming us is to let them go, providing we walk away with love and forgiveness in our heart and pray that they find their way to Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving in the United States
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States (I am writing this reflection on Thursday, November 24, 2016) and families all across this nation are gathering together to offer thanksgiving. Sometimes tensions run high in families. Such tension provides an opportunity to forgive and find a way to love like Christ loves. May this year bring forth new beginnings in your family and all families across the world. Let’s work together to cultivate forgiveness and love in our hearts for those closest to us, our family members. Once the family is restored, then I believe the world will become whole and healed – we will be a people living fully alive and walking with God.
On this note, I have to go now and serve my family. The turkey is basting, pies are made; however, there is still much to do. From my heart to yours, many you experience an abundance of the love Jesus has for you and your families.
I hope you find your way home towards the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ – the one who is love himself. May you speak and think words of love, forgiveness and mercy as you sing and praise of God’s glory! – Carolyn
Sacred Heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.
Mother Mary – pray for us.
Today’s Readings Revelations 20:1-4,11-21:2, Psalm 84:3,4,5-6A and 8A; Alleluia Luke 21:28, Luke 21:29033
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