Did you her about the guy who goes to his doctor. He says, “Doc, you have to help me. I keep having memory lapses.”
The doctor asks, “How often do you have these memory lapses?”
The man responds, “Ah… What memory lapses?”
First question: If you are married, on a scale of one to ten, how do you measure your relationship to your spouse?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Second question: If it is not a ten, what would it take to make it a ten?
If you are a parent, on a scale of one to ten, how do you measure your relationship with your children? What would it take to make it a ten?
Chose one of your friends. On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure your relationship? What would it take to make it a ten?
I ask these questions because there is a lot written today about the importance of relationships. Studies show that strong relationships help us fight isolation and loneliness, and help us live longer and healthier lives.
Lent, of course, is a time to measure our relationship with God. On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure your relationship to God? What would it take to make it a ten? Let’s give that a moments thought…..
In our gospel today Jesus talks about a fig tree that is not bearing fruit. The owner tells the gardener to cut it down. But the gardener asks for another year. He will try to cultivate the ground and fertilize the tree to see if it can still grow.
That fig tree symbolizes first the chosen people in the desert in the time of Moses. St. Paul reminds us today that many of them did not please God and they were struck down. But Moses, like a good gardener, did not give up on them and many went on to be faithful and true servants.
That fig tree also symbolizes the whole human family two thousand years ago not growing and bearing fruit for the kingdom of God. The gardener was Jesus. He didn’t want to give up on the human family just yet. So he taught and healed, and then suffered, died and rose. And the human family began to grow in a way it never had before.
Now, the fig tree symbolizes our whole human family once again. What is our relationship to God, -- our relationship as an individual, as a family, as a church, as a world? On a scale of one to ten, how are we doing? What would it take to make that relationship a ten?
To grow and prosper, a tree needs good ground. For many of us, that good ground is our family, our parish community and the good friends we choose to hang around with.
Besides good ground, a healthy tree needs food. We have Holy Eucharist as our food, the body and blood of Christ to nourish us.
A healthy tree needs sunshine. We have the brilliant light of Sacred Scripture to guide our minds and hearts, and help us grow in knowledge and wisdom.
A healthy tree needs water. Daily prayer is like water. It refreshes us. It helps our faith sink deep roots and enables us to reach new heights.
The next example doesn’t apply to trees. But in order to grow, a healthy person needs exercise. Fasting and almsgiving are a good workout not only during Lent, but all through the year.
So, using the one to ten scale, how often do we
read the Scriptures?
receive Holy Communion?
fast and give alms?
Finally, a healthy tree needs a loving gardener. And we have Jesus, the master gardener, who loves us totally. We are in good hands.
The world, “Lent,” means “spring season.” Spring is a special time for plants to bloom. The California golden poppy is blooming all over the place right now. It reminds us that we are here to blossom and make our world beautiful.
Just one last measurement for today. In our first reading, Moses is told to take off his sandals because he was on sacred ground. Jesus came and walked upon this Earth. We are on sacred ground. On a scale for one to ten, how well do we take care of this earth? What would it take to make it a ten?
May we all grow healthy and strong this Lent, and bear fruit all year long.