Mt. 4:17From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
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1 At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
2 He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in
this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
3 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!
4 Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them
—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in
5 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they
6 And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree
planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found
7 he said to the gardener, ‘For three
years 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?’
8 He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave
it for this year also, and I shall
cultivate the ground around it and
9 it may bear fruit in the future. If
not you can cut it down.’”
The first five verses of this reading
have to do with the Jewish
concept of sin being related to
Pilate decided that Jerusalem needed
a new and improved water supply.
He planned to build it and to finance
it with money taken from the
It was a admirable project and more
than a reasonable expenditure.
But at the very notion of spending
Temple money for a public
project had infuriated the Jews.
Mobs gathered, Pilate instructed his
soldiers put cloaks over their battle
dress uniforms, carry clubs and to
mingle with the crowd.
When given a signal they were to reveal
themselves and disperse the crowd.
The soldiers over reacted and killed a
number of people and injured many
Verse 2 asks the question that was on
the minds of the Jews, “Do you think
that because these Galileans suffered
in this way they were greater sinners
than all other Galileans?“
Jesus responds with 3By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Jesus explained that suffering has
nothing to do with a person’s
In fact, all people are sinful and
unless people repent of their sins,
they will experience an everlasting
He then asked about the 18 who died
as a result of a tower collapse.
It has been suggested that these 18
had taken been hired to take on
the work of Pilate’s water project.
Generally people thought that any
money these 18 earned should have
been returned to the Temple treasury
and thus they were killed because
they failed to return the money
Pilate had stolen from God.
Jesus responds with 5By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”
It is clear that Jesus told of the
destruction of Jerusalem and the
Temple in 70 A.D. (cf. Luke 21:21–
He knew the Jews were headed
for a “national suicide,” if they
didn’t stop opposing the
The Jews were focused on
obtaining an earthly kingdom
and at the same time they were
rejecting the kingdom of God.
Their concept of individual sin
being related to suffering is not
valid because as we know
many of the greatest saints are
the ones who suffered the most.
But national sin, the sin of a
nation going against God
There are many examples of the
nation of Israel opposing God
which resulted in national
disasters in the Old Testament.
Instead of blaming others and
accusing them of sins that
brought on their suffering
everyone should prepare for
their own day of judgment.
It was not unusual to see fig trees
planted in a vineyard (RSVCE)
not orchard (NAB).
The fig tree draws its strength and
life from the soil but when it fails
to produce it can be viewed as
sinful because it is not fulfilling
the purpose for which it was
The parable teaches that uselessness
A fig tree normally takes three years
to produce. If it is not bearing fruit
by that time it is not likely to bear
fruit at all.
But this fig tree was given another
It is always Jesus’ way to give us
chance after chance.
But there is a point in time when no
more chances will be given.
If we refuse chance after chance, if
God’s chances are ignored until our
final day comes, then it is not God
who shuts us off from heaven, it is
we who by our deliberate choice,
have chosen to shut ourselves out.
At judgment the righteous will go
to heaven (Rev. 21:7) and the
faithless will go to “the lake that
burns” (Rev. 21:8).
Those in need of purification will
go to purgatory (Mt. 5:24-25;
We hear the owner, God, of the
vineyard, Israel, tell the
Vinedresser, Jesus, to cut down
the fruitless tree.
The next step would be to throw it
into the fire, (Nah. 3:15;
Mt. 3:10; Mt. 7:19; Lk. 3:9) but no
the Jesus, wants to give us
another chance, He wants to
provide us with every
opportunity for growth.
Will you like the fig tree accept
yet another opportunity to draw
your strength, your life, from the
fertile soil of the Church?
This reading tells us it is now time
to begin bearing good fruit or
suffer the self-imposed