Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Northwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association

There are no coincidences in life. Today, we mark the founding of the Northwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, and I think that today's Gospel (Luke 13: 1-9) speaks to this significant occasion.

The fig and the fig tree have been mankind's constant companion throughout all of recorded history, and even beyond that. There is solid evidence that it has been cultivated at least as far back as 7,000 years ago; it is mentioned over 50 times in the Bible, spanning both Old and New Testaments; and all of the references are full of meaning…it's not just a tree that bears abundant fruit with precious little care; it stands as a symbol of so much more.

Fig trees and fig crops were indicators of a robust economy, much like low unemployment figures are now. The fig tree was a symbol of Peace, Prosperity, and God's blessing. The Apostle Bartholomew was chosen by Jesus because Jesus saw him "sitting under a fig tree", which was a metaphor for being lost in deep prayer.

In all cultures where the fig appears, physicians have always recognized it as a source of power and strength, and as a source of healing for diseases of every description.

So, what is the point of the parable that Jesus tells us today in our Gospel reading? How does it speak to us…how does he speak to us…today? This tree, this fabled symbol of God's grace, is threatened with destruction…because it is not bearing fruit, despite many seasons of growth. The owner of the orchard even says "So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?" What a devastating conviction!!

Yet it is the gardener who comes to the tree's defense, giving it one more chance to bear fruit with his promise of extra special care…one more year…but only one more year

The profession of Medicine today looks a lot like the fig tree in today's parable…it has had many seasons of growth, and is flourishing physically and technologically, but it is not bearing the spiritual fruit that it is not only capable of bearing, but that is so much a part of what it is really meant to be…what we all want it to be.

Today, the Catholic physicians of St. Paul parish and our area take that first step…together…to begin the process of cultivating and fertilizing the fig tree of our beloved profession. We ask God's help for an abundance of fruit.  BW