"Look here! For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree and found none. Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground?" —Luke 13:7
We don't hear of Jesus cursing straggly, leafless trees. Rather, He cursed good-looking trees with lots of foliage but no fruit (Mt 21:19). Likewise, in Jesus' letters to the churches in Revelation, He does not threaten to close bad-looking churches but ones that have great reputations yet little fruit. For example, to the church of Sardis, Jesus says: "I know the reputation you have of being alive, when in fact you are dead! Wake up" (Rv 3:1-2). To Laodicea, Jesus declares: "You keep saying, 'I am so rich and secure that I want for nothing.' Little do you realize how wretched you are, how pitiable and poor, how blind and naked! Take my advice" (Rv 3:17-18).
To the church of today, Jesus may be saying the same thing. Yes, we have more foliage than ever — buildings, finances, and programs more than at any other time in the history of Christ's church. Yet how much fruit is there under all those leaves? I know churches with half-million dollar budgets and five catechumens. Of course, the church has the responsibility to take care of its old fruit, but where is the new harvest? Jesus curses just leaves. Leaves without fruit are hypocritical.
Prayer: Father, make me a tree which has more fruit than leaves.
Promise: "When He ascended on high, He took a host of captives and gave gifts to men." —Eph 4:8
Praise: St. John devoted himself to increasing the fruitfulness of his own Franciscan brothers and sisters.
Reference: (To be fruitful by helping others, read the Bible daily. For encouragement, order our series on Biblical Counseling on audio AV 13A-1, AV 13A-3, AV 13B-1 or video starting with V-13A.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, March 30, 2004
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 1, 2004