"Sir," the man replied "leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down." (Lk. 13:9)
This week's Gospel is from St. Luke, 13:1-9.
Our Lord stresses that we need to produce plenty of fruit (cf. Lk 8:11-15) in keeping with the graces we have received (cf. Lk 12:48). But he also tells us that God waits patiently for this fruit to appear; he does not want the death of the sinner; he wants him to be converted and to live (Ezek 33:11) and, as St Peter teaches, he is "forebearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Pet 3:9). But God's clemency should not lead us to neglect our duties and become lazy and comfort-seeking, living sterile lives. He is merciful, but he is also just and he will punish failure to respond to his grace.
"There is one case that we should be especially sorry about — that of Christians who could do more and don't; Christians who could live all the consequences of their vocation as children of God, but refuse to do so through lack of generosity. We are partly to blame, for the grace of faith has not been given us to hide but to share with others (cf. Mt 5:151). We cannot forget that the happiness of these people, in this life and in the next, is at stake. The Christian life is a divine wonder with immediate promises of satisfaction and serenity — but on condition that we know how to recognize the gift of God (cf. Jn 4:10) and be generous, not counting the cost" (J. Escriva, Christ is passing by, 147).
O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy.