Thought for the Day – 27 October – Today’s Gospel: Luke 13:1-9 – Saturday of the Twenty Ninth week in Ordinary Time, Year B
“And he said to the vinedresser,
‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit
on this fig tree and I find none.
Cut it down, why should it use up the ground?”…Luke 13:7
Answering God’s call to repent at last
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church – Confessions Bk. 8
Those trifles of all trifles and vanities of vanities, my one-time mistresses, held me back, plucking at my garment of flesh and murmuring softly: “Are you sending us away?” And ” From this moment shall we not be with you, now or forever?” And: ” From this moment shall this or that not be allowed you, now or forever?” What were they suggesting to me, O my God?… I hesitated to shake them off and leap upwards on the way I was called, for the strong force of habit said to me: “Do you think you can live without them?” But by this time its voice was growing fainter. In the direction towards which I had already turned my face and was quivering in fear of going, I could see the austere beauty of Continence honourably soliciting me to come to her and not linger, her hands full of multitudes of good examples… “The Lord their God gave me to them. Why do you rely on yourself and so fail to stand at all? Cast yourself upon Him and do not be afraid, He will not draw back and let you fall. Cast yourself on Him without fea,; He will receive you and heal you”…
This disputation within my heart was nothing other than a struggle between myself against myself… When my most searching scrutiny had drawn up all my vileness from the secret depths of my soul and heaped it in my heart’s sight, a mighty storm rose up in me bringing a mighty rain of tears. In order to give release to my tears and lamentations, I got up and went out… I flung myself down somehow under a certain fig tree and no longer tried to check my tears, which poured from my eyes in a flood, an acceptable sacrifice to Thee. And I spoke to You freely: “And Thou, O Lord, how long? How long, Lord, will You be angry forever? Remember not our former iniquities.” (Ps 6:4; 78:5)… And I continued my miserable complaining: “How long, how long shall I go on saying tomorrow and again tomorrow? Why not now, why not this very hour?”
And suddenly I heard a voice from some nearby house, a boy’s voice or a girl’s voice, a sort of sing-song repeated again and again: “Take and read, take and read.” I stopped weeping and immediately began to search my mind most carefully as to whether children were accustomed to chant these words in any kind of game and I could not remember that I had ever heard any such thing. Damming back my flood of tears I rose up again, interpreting the incident as quite certainly a divine command to open the book of the apostle Paul and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall… I returned hastily and took up the book and read what I had seen before: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscence,” (Rom 13:13). I had no wish to read any further and no need. For in that instant, with the very ending of the sentence, it was as though a light of utter confidence shone in my heart, and all the darkness of uncertainty vanished away.