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Tell It Slant – Catastrophes and Fig Trees

Luke 13:1-9, NRSV


We live in a finite world where everything is dying, shedding its strength. This is hard to accept, and all our lives we look for exceptions to it. We look for something strong, undying, infinite. Religion tells us that something is God. Great, we say, we’ll attach ourselves to this strong God. Then this God comes along and says, “Even I suffer. Even I participate in the finiteness of this world.” [This] image of God is not an ‘almighty’ and overpowering God, but in fact a poor, vulnerable, and humble one like Jesus. …
The enfleshment and suffering of Jesus is saying that God is not apart from the trials of humanity. God is not aloof. God is not a mere spectator. God is not merely tolerating or even healing all human suffering. Rather, God is participating with us—in all of it—the good and the bad! I wonder if people can avoid becoming sad and cynical about the tragedies of history if they do not know this.

— Richard Rohr, Job and the Mystery of Suffering

  • Human’s urge to find someone to blame, to scapegoat others
  • typical application of the parable is to see which role do we see ourselves in, which role we see Jesus in, but alternate approach is to see ourselves in all roles
  • we commonly see ourselves as fig trees, producing fruits or not
  • but we could also see ourselves as the gardener, giving ourselves another chance of one more year, whether for others or for ourselves


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