A fig-tree parable or a “kitchen maid” theology...

“From the lack of simplicity – the lack of faith”
Archimandrite Lazarus (Abashidze)

There are moments in everybody’s life when you have your heart set on suddenly heard words which make you think about lots of things. It doesn’t matter whether it is a radio broadcast or a phrase from a film or a book – what matters is the mood they impart. For a faithful person or, as it is commonly said – for an observing Christian, this phrase can frequently come from the Gospel or works of the Holy Fathers. 

A case in point: several days ago the phase form Gospel of Matthew was worming my mind – “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that…” Having found the interpretation of this text by Holy Fathers, I learned it is an episode when the Lord teaches about the end of the world and the end time, yet this is not what I’m going to reflect on. I intentionally did not quite this phrase completely, only what my mind was set on, and I arrived at the following conclusions: firstly, the Bible is unique because each word, each sentence there is filled with its special sense; secondly, despite a commonly accepted interpretation of the context of a particular parable, it often makes the reader come up with unexpected ideas.   

Now I will move on to what triggered my reflections… Everything started in a routine way, not mysterious at all: I had to peel off onion and carrot to make dinner. While I was doing that, my inner tape recorder began to play the fig-tree phrase and then the whole parable. I lingered for a short while and began talking to myself: “Well, fig trees do not grow in our locality; I have onions and carrots before me. What parable can these vegetables tell me?” On the one hand, everybody eats onion and carrot – both the poor and the rich; on the other hand, it’s not that simple because cooking process reveals something important about our life.       

A sauce-pan where all these vegetables are boiling is our life that steams with various events and sets in motion everything what is inside it. Vegetables and their quantity in the sauce-pan are what should be boiled, cooked and eaten, the bigger part being carrots, potatoes, cabbage etc, the smaller – salt, pepper, and other seasonings. The dish will be tasteless and insipid without seasonings but it will be uneatable with too much salt and pepper. If the ingredients are used properly, the dish will be tasty; otherwise it’s a waste of time, efforts, and ingredients.    

The moral of this cooking story is simple: it’s enough to watch the people around us. Some of them are potatoes, some are carrots, some are hot onions, and others are seasonings. Only hand of God that puts together “foods” in this universal pot makes a masterpiece out of “a potato”, “a carrot”, and “an onion” for the Kingdom of God. It’s important to remember God is always right by creating recipes and improving the taste of our life with “seasonings”. 

This is my own parable of the “fig tree”. If to be attentive, there are similar life lessons from other categories and things around us, all of them leading to one important point – “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”… 

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