In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus fields a question about current affairs and those who suffer at the hands of the powerful. In a theological world where suffering was the consequence of sin, Jesus asserts that those suffering were no worse sinners than anyone else. According to this theological shift, the sin really lies elsewhere – in this case, at the feet of the empire wielding its power unjustly. Many of us might wish we could ask Jesus similar questions about the Ukrainians suffering unjustly in our own time. Jesus responds to them – and to us – with a parable about an unfruitful fig tree given a second chance. Jesus uses these unpredictable, unchangeable events to prompt his listeners to change what they can – their own response.
They – and we – can change our hearts, our minds, and our actions in the face of suffering. We can live in hope, and we can offer hope to those who are suffering. Rather than focus and dwell on the gravity or depravity of negative actions, we can focus on our own, bearing good fruit in the world. I am mindful of a poignant example of this I saw on the news this week: a young woman sat at a piano playing and singing for refugees waiting in long lines for a train out of Kiev. When Jesus comes looking for fruit, he will find it there. Will he find it here – in us, in our congregation, in our community? Join Pastor Norb as he preaches this Sunday, inviting us into these and other reflections on our scriptures.