Most of us are familiar with the term “sponger”.  It refers to a person who takes and takes and makes little or no effort to put anything back.  If you go to lunch with a sponger, more often than not he or she will forget to bring money.  You and I do not enjoy the company of a sponger and most of all, we do not want to be one.  In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus told a story about this pattern of life but the sponger is not a person.  It is a fig tree, the tree draws strength and sustenance from the soil but it never gives anything back.  It never produces any figs.  Of course we all know that Jesus was not concerned about fruitless trees, His concern was people who take without giving.  It troubled him to see people do bad things and it troubled him just as much to see people who did nothing. In his value system, doing nothing is wrong.  Jesus condemned the tree for producing nothing.  This is closely consistent with his teaching.  The parable of the Good Samaritan is one example.  Jesus took  aim at a priest and a Levite who saw a wounded man and passed him by and did nothing.  Few things are more wrong than seeing a need and making no attempt to meet it.  In the eyes of Jesus it is wrong not to care.  It is wrong not to work.  It is wrong not to give.  It is wrong not to help.  That is why the land owner ordered the fig tree to be cut down.  It was non-productive and did nothing.  We can never excuse our idleness or uselessness by saying “I never had a chance, there was nothing that I could do.”  That is simply not true.  All of us have some kind of talent or endowment from God that we can use in His service.  We may not be wealthy.  We cannot give thousands to build schools and hospitals, but not one of us is so poor that we have nothing to share.  We could give some time to a person who lives with continual loneliness.  We can share a word of encouragement.  We can listen to people’s problems.  It may not seem like much, but there are days when even a friendly smile could turn the tide in someone’s struggle with life.  The point is – we must learn to care, to deliberately and consciously become giving, loving, sharing people.  When Jesus talked about fruitful living, I don’t think he meant the big and impressive things, He was the one who commended the worth of a cup of water and a young boy’s lunch and we are all capable of those little unselfish deeds that communicate concern and build bridges of understanding and I am convinced that these are the very essence of fruitful living. A wise person once said “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  The person who makes mistakes while trying to do good is a far better servant of God than the person who avoids mistakes by risking nothing.  God can work through flawed human beings but he can accomplish nothing if they do nothing.                               Fr John