A Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 21:29-33
(Fig Tree Blossom, Internet Image from Drawing)
The Gospel today calls us to a certain joy that nothing should dampen. It calls us to burst open, and go forth, for summer, the Kingdom of God, is near. That is exciting! Jesus tells us to,
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:29–31 NABRE)
Spring, especially after a long, cold, and dark winter cannot help but elicit joy. We literally see life bursting out all over. The Greek word used for burst is, prŏballō, which means to forcefully push or shoot forth. Life bursts all around us as winter turns to spring. In some places the explosion of life is so forceful that the pollen, the tiny grains that each plant releases to fertilize other plants, is so thick that everything has a blanket of yellow. Though, for some this explosion of pollen brings on allergies, the metaphor for the joy resulting from the kingdom of God bursting forth like a bud from many trees, spreading life-giving pollen, is beautiful. It is hard to contain the joy one feels on an early spring day. This is the excitement and joy that every believer should feel at the coming of the Kingdom of God. St Paul describes the Kingdom,
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others. Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.” (Romans 14:17–19 NABRE)
The Kingdom arrives through our pursuit of peace and the affirmation of the other in their search of righteousness, peace, and especially joy. Remember the pollen that comes with springtime and leads to summer abundance? In some ways, the Christian is like pollen. Pollen comes in many varieties from large to small and is often carried by the wind or with the help of other animals and insects. Pollen is critical to plant reproduction (pollination). Pollen bears within it, the means for the furtherance of life for all plants. It is the mechanism which allows for each plant to bear fruit.
We too, enabled by grace, are carried by the winds of the Holy Spirit and the help of others to seek out those souls which cannot bear fruit, so that they may become fruitful. If there is no fruit, there is no life, for “every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10 NABRE) This is how the Kingdom of God expands. Jesus tells us, “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:8 NABRE)
Remember, what St Paul wrote about, “building up one another”. Perhaps, the faithful Christian is at times, a cause for irritation for a world which is distracted and complacent. Yet when this irritation is done in the honest and loving pursuit of righteousness, peace, and with great joy, it can lead to conversion for the other, that germination that is the result of pollination.
Sound scary? It should not! Remember, like pollen, the Christian holds within his or her being, through the Sacraments, the very source of life, the Word. God is in us and with us. The Sacraments fully equip us to do the work our Lord has given us. We just need the faith and courage to proceed. Jesus promises today,
Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:32-33 NABRE)
Like pollen, Christians can become distracted or can be blown by other winds. We must hold fast to our one, singular purpose, that is to deliver the Gospel of Salvation, so that a life, germinated by a small grain of pollen, may indeed burst forth from that which had no life potential. It is in this purpose that we must find true joy. It is this bursting forth that signals the relentless advance of the Kingdom of God.
On this day, just after Thanksgiving, may we share in the assurance and joy that the Kingdom of God is as unstoppable as the Spring and Summer that follows the long, cold, death of winter. Yes, we live in a time of extreme uncertainty with many signs around us reminding us of death and destruction that could touch us at any moment. Yet, this can never dampen our joy! For despite the hardship, confusion, and fear sown through human sin and the Devil, the Kingdom of God is coming. This is a reality we can count on. This reality, the Kingdom of God, must capture our imaginations, so we do not let fear overwhelm us. Instead, it should drive us with the wind of the Holy Spirit to bring life to those who cannot bear fruit.
Next time you see that blanket of yellow that comes with the Spring, let it remind us of all of our task to burst forth with the Gospel of God’s love, mercy, and our salvation for a world locked in winter.
“But well, is the kingdom of God compared to summer; for then the clouds of our sorrow flee away, and the days of life brighten up under the clear light of the Eternal Sun.” (St Pope Gregory I as quoted by Aquinas)
Aquinas, St Thomas. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke. Ed. John Henry Newman. Vol. 3. Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843. Print.
Drawing, Bex. "Winning board 'Fig' competition." Printerest, www.pinterest.com/pin/254594185155209828/. Accessed 23 Nov. 2022.
Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd Ed. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000. Print.
New American Bible. Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011. Print.