Commentary on the Lectionary for March 3, Luke 13:1-9; A Parable for Our Time
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Commentary on the Lectionary for March 3, Luke 13:1-9; A Parable for Our Time

In this passage, Jesus says the following parable:
A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, “Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?” And he answered him, “Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”
As I see it, humanity is much like the fig tree. Just as the fig tree was given water and good soil to grow and flourish, so too has modern humanity been blessed with abundant resources with which humanity may thrive. Just as the fig tree was expected to bear fruit, so too should God expect humanity to live respectfully and peacefully with the rest of Creation. Humanity has the intelligence and the resources to live harmoniously with the rest of Creation, yet humanity has chosen the opposite path, harming nonhumans almost as much as humanity possibly can. Indeed, nearly all of humanity’s remarkable technologies and access to natural resources have been used in ways that harm the greatest number of animals in the most abusive manners possible.
So, if God delivers judgment and justice, how would God respond? If humanity is lucky, God would give humanity one last chance, just as Jesus gives the fig tree another year to produce. Personally, I am skeptical that God intervenes in human and world affairs in this way. Actually, I don’t think divine intervention is necessary here. Humanity’s selfishness and callousness – the attitudes that underpin humanity’s brutal exploitation of nonhumans – has generated unsustainable, self-destructive practices that include, but are not limited to, depletion of non-renewable resources, global warming, intensive farming practices that displace sustainable farmers and result in extreme poverty that is an impetus for war, and farming practices that generate resistance to antibiotics and facilitate spread of deadly diseases from nonhumans to humans. If humanity is granted another chance, will humanity show thanks for the gift? 

Go on to: Corinthians 5:16-21, part 1
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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