by Eric LeCompte, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
“He said to the gardener, ‘For 3 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.’” (Lk 13:7-9)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus shares the parable of the fig tree. When the tree does not bear fruit, the owner wants to cut it down, but the gardener encourages us to care for the plant so that it will eventually bear fruit. It’s a lesson in devotion, love, persistence and commitment.
In a broken world that is craving nonviolent solutions, too often our community and world leaders choose violence over nonviolence. As noted academic Theodore Roszak states, “People try nonviolence for a week, and when it ‘doesn’t work’ they go back to violence, which hasn’t worked for centuries.”
Roszak draws out what today’s gospel explores. Only through consistent dedication can we hope to see our efforts to build a nonviolent world bear fruit.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) continue to be one of the most beautiful examples of persistent nonviolence in action. The Florida tomato harvesters, through strategic nonviolent campaigns, raised their wages and brought some of the largest food producers to the negotiating table. Gandhi would use the word “opponents” to describe the likes of Burger King and Yum foods. CIW’s nonviolent persistence transforms “opponents” to partners that promote a living wage and help to end modern day slavery in Florida’s fields.
As the CIW labors among the tomato vines, they remind me – in dark moments – that through focused love in action, we can change the world around us and our labor can bear good fruit.
- What is my vision for my community and world?
- What does today’s gospel ask of me?
- How can I be more persistent in my actions to promote justice and nonviolence?
* This reflection is from Everything is Grace: Reflections for Lent 2016, now available for purchase and download from the Pax Christi USA Store online.