In the Gospel reading this week we hear about the Parable of the Fig Tree. In this account we hear about a landowner who went to inspect his land and found a Fig Tree that had failed to produce any fruit for three years… it wasn’t an exciting or attractive tree so without any fruit what was the point of having it in the vineyard taking up valuable space and land?
It must to have been tempting for the gardner to “call it a day” and give up on the challenge of looking after the tree with no noticeable success and the pressure of the landowner challenging for some tangible results.
Instead of accepting that it would never get any better, and cutting the tree down, the gardner instead pleaded for another opportunity saying “just give me one more year”. You get the sneaking suspicion that this is symbolic of never giving up hope. I believe that this is an attitude and approach that lies at the heart of education and working with young people.
I get an immense satisfaction in overcoming adversity or challenge especially if I have been told it is impossible. When someone says “that will never work” or “that student is unteachable” it ignites a spark in my eye that says we can achieve this together at St Paul’s. It enables us to look to act with compassion, commitment and care even in the most hopeless situations. We too have to be “dealers of hope” and hear the call to say “just give me one more year”…
So what can we do to live this out?
- Look for opportunities to feed and nurture growth and success even in times that seem hopeless.
- Live out the challenge from Pope Francis to be an oasis of mercy in the communities we are part of.
- Recognise that God offers love and forgiveness to us even when we fail to fulfil our potential.
We are called to be relentless in our quest to find opportunities to uncover the potential of those around us just as God never gives up on us and the potential we have.