Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
Today is Holy Monday, and the Gospel reading for the day features the story of the Barren Fig Tree.
In St. Matthew's account, Jesus, after spending the night in Bethany, returns to Jerusalem in the morning and feels hungry. On the way, he saw a fig tree and approached it, but found nothing but leaves on it. Jesus then said to the fig tree, "Henceforth bear no fruit forever," and the tree withered immediately (Matthew 21:18-22).
This fig tree with leaves but no fruit symbolizes those who outwardly pretend to be pious and religious but do not have the fruit of good deeds. Nominal and formal Christianity is unworthy of the Kingdom of God. "Faith without works is dead," as the Apostle James says (James 2:26).
True Christian faith is a living and fruitful faith that permeates the whole being of a person and transforms their life. Someone who lives by a living, true, and sincere faith realizes that they live in the presence of God. Consequently, their way of thinking, feelings, life, and deeds reflect this reality.
As the Apostle Paul writes, "Those who belong to Christ live and are led by the Holy Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit is this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control" (cf. Galatians 5:22-25).
Indeed, God, by bestowing His Holy Spirit upon us, gives us many opportunities and occasions to bear fruit, demonstrate our faith and loyalty to the Lord, and do good. However, opportunities do not last forever. One day, we will stand before God. If we are adorned with the fruits of our good deeds, then we will receive eternal blessings; otherwise, we will face condemnation like a fruitless fig tree.
According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Whatever you ask in prayer with faith, you will receive." Let us, therefore, ask the All-Merciful God with a heartfelt prayer to multiply the fruits of His Holy Spirit in our lives and make us worthy of His eternal blessing and joy.