picture of fig tree in dry land

The Fig Tree Gardener according to Luke


Jesus came to reunite the lost children of Israel and humanity with God and to restore the Reign of God on earth.
Human sin separates us from God. The way back to God is to repent (change from evil behavior) and believe in Jesus.
Lent is a special season that allows God to “dig around and fertilize” our spiritual roots so that we’ll be made right with God.


The Gospel Account

The Parable of the Fig Tree Gardener that begins with a call to repentance appears in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus talks about the need for repentance, since tragic life events and accidents can occur, and if we are not right with God, we can perish.

Then, Jesus tells a parable (or story) of a landowner who wants to eat figs from a tree on his land. The tree is not growing figs, even though the time is right for ripe figs to be harvested.

The owner instructs his gardener to cut the tree down. The gardener reasons with the owner and promises to give the tree more care, in the hope that it will bear fruit in the next season.

You can find the story of the parable of the fig tree and the gardener in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13, verses 1-9.

Click on this link to view the Gospel passage using the New American Bible translation.

The Five Decades

When you pray the five decades of this Rosary Reflection, use these five moments from the Gospel story.

First Decade: The Cruelty of Pilate (Luke 13:1-3)

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

Second Decade: The Tower of Siloam (Luke 13:4-5)

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 Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

Third Decade: The Parable of the Fig Tree (Luke 13:6)

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 none,

Fourth Decade: The Owner’s Disappointment (Luke 13: 7)

he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now 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?’

Fifth Decade: The Gardener’s Hope (Luke 13: 8-9)

‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

What to Remember

This Gospel story depicts  Jesus teaching his disciples the need for readiness to be right with God since our time on earth can end when we least expect it. God is both Judge and merciful savior, but we need to make a choice to live for God. Like the gardener, God gives us second and third chances. Yet, there is an urgency to follow God’s ways, even though God gives us multiple chances.

As followers of Jesus, God calls us to bear fruit with our lives and gives us the resources to grow.

 God will provide what we need to drop sin and live a fruit-filled life.

What to Pray For

Here are a few intentions to pray for:

  • For a greater openness to God’s gardening methods in our lives.
  • That the world may be a garden of peace, love, and goodwill for all humans.
  • For those whose lives are stuck in a wasteland and need God’s touch transforming touch.
  • That society will value the roles of farmers and for greater yield in places of scarcity and famine,

Feel free to pray the rosary using the Gospel when you want more grace, and the personal care of God to help you endure and grow in dry times.

When This Gospel Appears

Luke’s Gospel account of the parable of the Fig Tree Gardener occurs on the Third Sunday of Lent in Cycle C of the Liturgical Year.

The most recent appearance is on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

There are three cycles that last a year each, beginning with the First Sunday in Advent in the Church year.

In Cycle A, the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Matthew.

For Cycle B, the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Mark and John.

In Cycle C, the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Luke.

* Scripture passages are from the United Conference of Catholic Bishops website, https://usccb.org/bible

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