September 1, Saturday

The Calling of St Matthew, 1599–1600, Caravaggio

Seeing a fig tree by the road, he (Jesus) came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, Let no fruit grow on you ever again. Immediately the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:19.

It is significant that Jesus did not spend His last nights in Jerusalem. Neither in the houses nor in the hearts there was there any room for Him. Returning to the city one morning, the Creator of the universe was hungry. But He longed even more for His people’s response to His love. The fig tree, where He sought fruit in vain, symbolizes the people of Israel (cf. Hosea 9:10). The people owed their origin to God, who called Abraham in Mesopotamia and later liberated the enslaved nation in Egypt and brought them to the land of Canaan. What trouble God took with His people! Yet the greatest proof of His love was sending His Son, who vainly sought the people’s love, but found no fruit.

Cursing the fig tree shows that God must judge the sin of His people. However, we learn from the Bible that many in Israel will turn to God in the future, and He will make a new covenant with them (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). 

The people of Israel rejected Jesus Christ, their Messiah. Today, God appeals to the people of every nation through the gospel, offering them eternal salvation. But it will not be without serious, eternal consequences, if we disregard or reject the Son of God. Let us therefore follow the call of the gospel through “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

Image: By Caravaggio – Self-scanned, Public Domain,