GOSPEL: LUKE 13.1-9
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’ Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”
REFLECTIONS AND QUESTIONS
Can you hear a group of people trying to get a rise out of Jesus? “We heard about some Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices! Can you believe that?!” But Jesus is not really impressed by their tale. Were they worse sinners? No, he says. All must repent or perish. A harsh tune, but one that is in sync with Paul’s song above.
And how will we know if we’ve repented? The parable instructs us that the tree will bear fruit. Weirdly, we’re given another year, perhaps a grace period, to see whether or not fruit will flower forth.
The gardener, likely a skilled gardener, has the prudence to understand that fruit does not grow immediately. Growing figs takes time, bearing fruit requires patience – and appropriate nourishment. While it may be tempting to chop down the parts of ourselves that seem like they are taking forever to heal or grow up, maybe we need to ask what nourishment we need, instead. What compost is necessary to add to our roots? Time with friends? Scripture? A Sabbath rest? In addition to the repentance that is required of us, what else do our trees need? We may see the unhealthy nature of our soil, but how do we increase its wellbeing?
 From what must you turn and repent? What about your church community?
 What does healthy soil mean to you? What do you need in your life to enrich it?