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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.
If I had to personally choose which season to compare eternal life to, I would have chosen spring. Jesus in today’s gospel reading seems to favor summer, perhaps because it’s the season when light is at its brightest: “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.”
But summer is also the time when fruits are ripe. It’s the time that prepares for the harvest, the reaping of wheat, the gathering of grapes. Bread and wine are the elements Jesus chooses for the Eucharist, for his mysterious presence.
Jesus is suggesting that we think about where we are in our “ripening” or maturation. Have we matured relationally? Have we matured inwardly? Have we matured character-wise? Maturing or “ripening” doesn’t simply mean the passing of time, but time changing us, refining us, making us better.
Sometimes our lives are contaminated with too much immaturity, and the only thing we’ve learned about adult life is how to be shrewd enough to land on our feet when we fall. Becoming parents isn’t enough for us to be able to say that we’re also mature people. Receiving a position of responsibility in the Church isn’t enough for us to be able to say we’re mature people either. Nor is exercising power over others.
We’re only mature when we resemble Christ, and that has to do with self-giving. Wheat and grapes are ripe when they can be harvested to undergo a transformation that will change them into bread and wine. Jesus is mature the moment he feels that the greatest part of his mission is to give his life. We are mature in every area of life when we’re willing to give ourselves and not simply to affirm ourselves. And giving implies an attitude of service, of decentering, of helping others grow, of giving space to others, and of supporting others’ lives.
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.