3rd Sunday of Lent (Ages 3-6): The Good Gardener
(Adults, this reflection considers only the parable in verses 6-9. How does your child answer the questions? It is difficult for us not to supply answers for the child, but we trust that the Holy Spirit works within each child, discovering answers together.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells us a new parable. It is a parable about a fig tree. Figs are a kind of fruit. When Jesus tells us the parable of the fig tree, we have to wonder what more Jesus means.
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
What do we hear in this parable?
There are two people: the man who owns the fig tree and the gardener. There is also the fig tree.
What seems to be the problem?
The fig tree is not growing fruit. We wonder why not. There must be something wrong with it. The fig tree must not have everything it needs to grow properly. If it grows properly, then it can produce fruit.
Should they cut the fig tree down?
It is not doing what it is supposed to do.
What does the gardener say?
‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.
The gardener does not want to cut down the fig tree. The gardener wants to help the fig tree grow and produce fruit. He is going to dig around the roots so that they can breathe more easily. He is going to mix manure into the soil. This will make the soil so full of good things to help the fig tree grow. The gardener wants the fig tree to become strong. He wants it to produce fruit. The gardener is going to give the fig tree everything it needs.
When the fig tree is in trouble, the gardener helps.
When the fig tree does not have enough, the gardener gives it everything it needs.
The gardener is very good to the fig tree.
We wonder, what more could Jesus mean?
Who could this good gardener be like?
Do we know this good gardener?
Who is Jesus thinking about?