March 21, 2021 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032121-YearB.cfm)
Fruit-bearing process of Jackfruit tree is indeed amazing.
Summertime during my childhood days, my parents used to ask me to strike with a bolo the trunk of the jackfruit tree, (we call langka), so that its tree would bear much fruits. It had always been a mystery to me why, if you scratch or peel off its trunk’s skin, thus, releasing white juices (in a way inflicting pain or wounds around its trunk), would a langka, jackfruit tree bears much fruit. Simply put, why would a jackfruit tree bear much fruit, if one cut and injure the jackfruit tree? Bakit ba namumunga ang puno nga langka pagsinugatan mo ito?“Nganong mamunga man ang punu-an sa langka kon imong samad-samaran ang lawas sa iyang punu-an?”
For us Filipino, this has been a common practice – for jackfruit to bear much fruit, we cut or scratch the skin of its trunk. And most of the time, our parents or elders could not explain why it happens. Usually, they would just rationalize that it has been done before and it worked, and it will be like that always. Well, it does work & we definitely enjoy its fruits.
But if we try to observe closely the fruit-bearing process of a nangka tree, we realize that in order for it to bear much fruits, it is necessary for the nangka tree to undergo such painful process of scratching & peeling off some of its trunk’s skin. Because if you notice, a langka tree normally grows with a lot of leaves, leaves that usually blocks the sunlight to get in. We know then that less sunlight, there would be less chance of growing flowers, thus less chance of bearing fruits. For the sunlight to get in, thus letting flowers to grow and bear fruits, one need to lessen or trim down the volumes of leaves around the nangka tree without damaging its branches, by scratching off the trunk’s skin or inflicting wounds around the tree. Thus, when its leaves fall and sun then comes in, time will come new flowers will bloom and then will produce new fruits.
Sometimes we do need to go through process of legitimate sacrifices & sufferings for the promise of new life to flourish in our life again & anew.Tweet
In the same manner, our readings today have the same message. The Lords says in our first reading, “the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with them where I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Meaning, the time is near for a personal covenant with God. Jesus in our gospel today is proclaiming us that God’s glory is about to be revealed, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” – the good news of God’s glory is near and our salvation is at hand.
However, for God’s glory to be revealed and our salvation to realized, we must experience legitimate sacrifices and dying. Jesus said: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world, will preserve it for eternal life. St Paul said, Jesus himself experience sacrifices for he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears. He learned obedience from what he suffered. Like jackfruit tree, we must shed off our sins and be naked & properly exposed before the Lord, so that His glory and life will be revealed to us, & will be received by us.
The psychologist Karl Jung says that most mental sickness comes from the avoidance of legitimate suffering. The neurotic maneuvers we make to avoid the legitimate suffering that is part of our reality become much more painful than the original suffering would have been. Avoiding suffering & pains thus hinders us to grow fruitfully in life. For a woman to fully enjoy motherhood, she must go through and endure the sacrifice of childbearing, and suffering of childbirth. Just like the fruit-bearing process of the langka tree, our life must also undergo pain and shedding of sinful ways so that God’s light will ignite and prepare our faith for a new life. In all spheres of life, the secret of deeper joy is in delayed satisfaction and legitimate suffering.
In review, Ash Wednesday calls us to repentance & faith, “Repent & Believe the Gospel”. 2nd Sunday of Lent, God challenges us to Listen to His Beloved Son. 3rd Sunday of Lent Jesus insists that we cleanse & consecrate our lives as God’s temple as we “stop to make His father’s house a marketplace”. 4th Sunday reminds us that we rise above ourselves to these Lenten challenges so that we may have Life eternal with God. And now on the 5th Sunday of Lent, through legitimate process life-sufferings & pains, we are to prepare & expose ourselves to openly receive & accept God’s gift of salvation for us here & now at this very juncture of our life.
As we are now nearing towards our observance of Holy Week & celebration of Easter Triduum, may these challenges of Lent properly dispose us for the coming flower-blooming & fruit-bearing of the coming life-promises of Easter. So Help us God, So May it be. Amen.