Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Today, Jesus uses two tragic events that people were talking about as the starting point to make them and us wake up from the torpor that convinces us that tragic things always happen to others. It’s precisely this conviction that makes us postpone our conversion to an indeterminate future.
The tragic events that so often fill the news during our lunch or dinner hour should instead prompt each of us to convert – not so much so that we don’t end up in the same situation, but so that we ourselves do not become the cause of evil for others, or remain unprepared for the unexpected.
Then, Jesus addresses another essential aspect head-on: How long can we put off the consequences of our actions? To explain this to us, he tells a parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
Is it not a contradiction to say that God is infinitely merciful but His patience has a limit? Absolutely not. We are infinitely loved by God, always, without second thoughts, but this love does not protect us from the consequences of our own actions. If love were to remove all our responsibility, it would no longer be love because it would take away our freedom. Instead, it’s precisely because we are free that we are responsible for our actions. Someone who loves us may be patient, but in the end he cannot prevent us from experiencing the consequences of our choices. So we must choose now, while we still have time, because eventually our time runs out.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.