THE FIG TREE AND THE MYSTERY OF DEATH – MEDITATION ON THE HOLY MONDAY

Priest Ioan Istrati

The Matins Service from the Holy Monday of the week of the holy sufferings of our Savior Jesus Christ is held on Sunday evening at the beginning of the liturgical day. The cult`s texts of this Matins gravitate around the cursing of the fruitless fig tree by Christ who was on his way and hungry for the fruit bearing of the world. It`s an apparently inexplicable gesture, of a strange harshness, so different of the gentleness of the One with endless love.

More explicitly Christ passes by a fig tree who was completely fruitless because the time of fruition had not come yet. Then the Savior got angry and cursed the fig tree:

`Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away.`

This terrible gesture of God towards His creation is one of a frightening deepness for us, the people of the world.

God doesn`t want  us to include Him in our routine schedule of once in a week, month or year, He doesn`t want us to bear fruit only when the time of fruition comes but all the time like the trees of heaven from Apocalypse or like those from the Shepherd of Herma, which bloomed and bore fruits without cease.

The human being is not a different species, set up to give fruit at a certain time, but the jug where it was poured the entire Love of God pierced by the nails of the Cross.

Humanity is not an evolved species, but an earthly form of life with a heavenly calling.

The human sight is not only the most penetrating from the whole creation, but God Himself looked beyond His tears with his human eyes.

The man is not only a receptacle of grace in small successive doses but the Chalice of Light where is poured the Blood of God given to the world through Eucharist.

Christ doesn`t want us to listen to the cosmic rhythm of times, but to be moved by His everlastingness, givers and receivers of God till the end

His Love is not only spatial, but fills the universe of uncreated light, His sacrifice is not only temporal, but eternal in its saving effectiveness, taking out of hell the deceased, enlightening the present and giving meaning and life to this universe.

We are the fig trees on the path of the Cross, waiting for a lifetime for God to approach us and ask us for fruit, lifting His hand towards us, hungry for our love.

We must prepare ourselves for this moment our entire life. The moment of our encounter with Christ of the Cross and Resurrection is our earthly death. Then it is asked from us the fruitage gathered by us as long as we stayed in the light of the Sun of Justice and drank from the of this world. Death doesn`t come at pre-determined times, it can`t be programmed, postponed or canceled. It is more certain than anything else on earth and asks for our inner fruit bearing, hidden among the branches of the heart.

We urgently need to nourish ourselves with God through Holy Communion, for being able to feed Him with our figs in the moment when we return to Him.

In this perspective we see why the atmosphere of the Matins from the Holy Week is one of profound, touching suffering together with Christ Who goes voluntarily on the path of the Cross, of Death and Resurrection. In the netting of tears surrounding the Lamb Who prepares for His Sacrifice, we feel as small parts of His Body this pain beyond nature and beyond world. It is the fierce pain caused not by the anticipation of the nails, the spear and beatings.

Christ cries furtively not for the lashings He will endure, not for the nails which would pierce His hands and feet. Not the heaviness of the Cross makes Him sigh deeply. It`s something harder and much more terrible which burdens Him. It`s the awareness of the fact that millions of people will refuse Him forever and will scoff His saving Cross, throwing at the edge of the being His divine blood, poured out of too much Love for mankind.

The hell created in our minds and hearts through sins is much more dreadful than any lash. The Cross Christ carries till the end of this world is our indifference, our own voluntary estrangement of the One Who loves us since an eternity, the blasphemy we bring to His tears of blood from Gethsemane.

There`s nothing more terrible tan the scoffing and the rejection coming from those for whom You are ready to die, being without sin. Christ took our sins on the Cross and carried them through blood to the Throne of Trinity for sinking them in the endless ocean of His divinity.

But the men for whom He died, many of them refused to see Him resurrected, cursed the light which pervaded the whole universe, turned their backs to the One Who was pierced for their sins.

It is the time for inner fruit bearing by prayer and tears. Any moment wasted by us never returns. Christ passes by us saddened, tearful, hungry for our love and we are so close to gather our branches like wings and watch Him passing by with indifference, unfeeling His pain. He loves us so much that He will never force our freedom compelling us to step in His Light.

He will pass by us crying and we will never see Him.