This past Wednesday, June 13, was the feast St. Anthony of Padua. On June 13, 1985 I had the privilege of celebrating this feast with the people of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Kincardine ON. as their newly arrived pastor.
Now, you may recall that this past June 1, the gospel text for the mass included the account about Jesus cursing a fig tree.
The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!" Mk. 11:11
St. Anthony gives us some excellent insight into the meaning behind Jesus action. In the Office of Readings for the feast of Anthony, referring to preachers and teachers, Anthony says: “Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves.”
As Christians, we might be full of words about religion but empty of the actions that demonstrate the truth of which we speak. The fig tree Jesus encountered was not in season, and so not expected to bear fruit. But for us, disciples of Jesus, every season is in season – in season for us to bear fruit – the fruit of the Spirit which we received in baptism.
Listen to Jesus charge to St. Timothy:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires.… 2 Tim4:2
We are in one of those times. More and more the message of the gospel is falling on deaf ears. Now is a time for our actions to speak louder and louder. Paraphrasing St. Peter in his First Letter he exhorts:
“Knowing we are all residence of this world only for a time, do not let yourselves be lured into a life of indulgence. Living as we often do among unbelieving neighbours, you must conduct yourselves honorably. Then even if they accuse you of acting wrongly, they will come see your honorable behavior as the true way, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 1 Pt. 2:11
Taking direction from Jesus in today’s gospel, let us spread the seeds of our true and honorable good deeds wherever we go, that a harvest of goodness may come to pass.