The Lenten Season is upon us. It is a good time to be reminded that we as an organization must be Christ-bearers or intercessors for Him.
Eight-year-old Jimmy was acting up. He refused to do what he was told to do, and did about everything he was told not to do. In desperation his father finally sent him off to bed before the dessert was served. Just then a neighbor dropped in. He always liked Jimmy, and after a while he asked the parents if he could talk to the boy. With a prayer in his heart he reminded the lad that his disobedience displeased his parents and made them sad.
Especially it displeased God. The boy began to cry: “What can I do?” The visitor called his parents who listened with tears in their eyes as Jimmy told them he was sorry.
What that visitor did for Jimmy, Jesus Christ does for every one of us. That is the meaning of the story Our Lord tells us in this season’s Good News.
The man who planted the fig tree is Almighty God. The fig tree means the chosen people of God, you and me. The vinedresser or worker in the vineyard is Christ. In justice God the Father decides to cut down the fruitless trees. Christ intercedes. He pleads and prays that we will have more time, another chance.
For the sake of His Son the heavenly Father gives us another chance. That is the story of our life with Christ.
We have not borne fruit. We have not done what we were created to do. We have even done what God told us not to do. We have disobeyed His commandments. We have not produced.
You can’t blame God for being dissatisfied. He decides to remove us. But Christ intercedes, intervenes. Christ steps between us and God and asks for another chance.
Pleading for us is one of the principal tasks of Christ. He is our intercessor, our go between, He asks mercy for us. He gets us another chance. Not only does He beg His Father for forgiveness, Jesus also begs for all the good things we need. That is one reason every official prayer of the Church, especially in the Holy Sacrifice, winds up with the plea: “through Jesus Christ Our Lord,” or some variation of this thought.
Mass is the supreme expression of this truth. Jesus offers Himself to the Father through His priest. He opens His pleading arms in this Mass. His priest, taking Christ’s place, opens his pleading arms to beg mercy for all of us. Like Christ, a priest is an intercessor for his people.
The saints are also intercessors. They try to do what Christ did. In fact, everyone who calls himself a follower of Christ must be, like Christ, an intercessor. You and I must plead for those who do not have the time or heart or will to plead for themselves. Do you have some relative or friend – or enemy – who needs God’s mercy? Ask God to have mercy on that barren fig tree. Too seldom we pray for others in this way, even in our own family. We complain and criticize for hours. Do we ever find a few minutes to intercede, to ask God to spare, to help, to lift up the one who had disobeyed the Father? May Christ help all of us to be intercessors. May Jesus continue to intercede for us, and inspire us to intercede for others. God bless you.
As members of The Ancient Order of Hibernians we must continue to put into action the words of our motto “Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.”
God Bless you all, Father John.