A couple of weeks ago Americans were treated to the Oscars (also known as the Academy Awards), the annual ceremony where awards are given to actors, directors, and other individuals who have important roles in the making of movies. As usual, there was an area where the actors and actresses posed for pictures before walking into the auditorium where the ceremony took place.
It is at the Oscars and other ceremonies, such as the Golden Globe Awards, the GRAMMY Awards, and the MTV Video Music Awards, where some of the most beautiful and talented people in the world show up to be photographed and honored. We identify these people as celebrities. Unfortunately, for most of them the gifts they were given by God are used for the primary purpose of acquiring great worldly wealth and recognition. They are adored by their fans and adorned with the finest jewelry and clothing.
I thought of all those beautiful people last Sunday (the third Sunday of Lent) while I was listening to the Gospel reading for the Mass. The Gospel included the well-known parable of the fig tree,
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. And he said to the dresser of the vineyard: Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it done therefore: why cumbereth it the ground? But he answering, said to him: Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it. And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:6-9)
According to the dictionary, within the context of bearing fruit, the definition of the word “bear” is “to give birth” or “to produce as yield” or “to permit growth.” The word “fruit” is defined as “a product of fertilization in a plant with its modified envelopes or appendages; specifically, the ripened ovary of a seed plant and its contents.”
Most of the celebrities who are praised, honored, and adored by their fans are no better than the fig tree that was taking up space in the vineyard. Although they are blessed with an abundance of gifts that far surpass the gifts most people were blessed with, all they do is take up space in God’s Kingdom. Some of them pay the price of the fig tree by being cut down during the prime of their lives. Others slowly fade into oblivion, never having accomplished the purpose for which they were created.
What fruit do they fail to bear and bring forth? First and foremost, the children that God intended for them. Most of them don’t want to disrupt their lives or bodies by conceiving and carrying to full term more than one or two of God’s Children.
They also fail to bear fruit by refusing to perform works of mercy* that are directed toward people who are less fortunate than they are. Although some of them end up supporting certain charitable works, the majority of them fail to produce any fruit for the Kingdom of God. Instead they produce poison that destroys the souls of their fans.
The same can be said for the talented and gifted athletes as well as for the giants of business. Like the fig tree, they produce an abundance of riches for themselves but fail to bear the fruit that they were created by God to produce.
What gifts, talents, and skills did you receive from God? Are you using them to bear fruit that advances His Kingdom on Earth, or are you using them to serve your own selfish interests and desires?
*As a reminder, the corporal works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the sorrowful, and pray for the living and the dead.