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Holy Tuesday: The Lesson of the Fig Tree and Preparing Our Hearts

A colander full of fresh figs.

Today is Holy Tuesday, also known as Fig Tuesday (more on that in a moment), which is marked by a series of poignant teachings and parables from Jesus, as well as one curious act that speaks volumes—the cursing of the fig tree.

In the Gospel of Matthew (21:18-22) and Mark (11:12-14, 20-25), we find Jesus approaching a fig tree in hunger, only to find it barren of fruit. He curses the tree, and it withers, symbolizing the importance of true faithfulness and the dangers of a fruitless life of faith.

On this day, Jesus also engages in confrontations with the authorities in Jerusalem, delivering some of his most memorable parables and teachings, including the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46), and the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). These teachings challenge us to examine our own faithfulness and readiness to follow God's call.

Around the world, Holy Tuesday is observed with a variety of traditions, each reflecting the deep contemplation this day inspires. In many churches, the day's liturgy focuses on the themes of watchfulness, readiness, and the call to bear good fruit in our lives. Some communities hold special services or prayer meetings to meditate on Jesus's teachings and what they mean for us today.

In places like the Philippines, Holy Tuesday is part of the larger observance of the Pabasa, an uninterrupted reading of the passion narrative, emphasizing the importance of the scripture that defines this week. Elsewhere, believers might spend time in personal or family devotions, reading and reflecting on the passages associated with this day.

The lessons of Holy Tuesday call us to a deeper faithfulness. The withering of the fig tree is a stark reminder of the expectation that we, too, bear fruit in our spiritual lives. It's a day to ask ourselves: Are we living in a way that nourishes others and glorifies God? Are we prepared for the kingdom, ready to answer the call with a resounding "yes"?

As we move through Holy Tuesday, let's take to heart the teachings of Jesus and the symbolism of the fig tree. May we be vigilant in our faith, rich in our deeds, and always ready for the work God has set before us. Let this day be a time of preparation, not just of our homes for the coming celebration but of our hearts for the ongoing journey of faith.

Ways to Celebrate

Read Matthew 21:18-22.

Continue your spring cleaning.

Eat something with figs in it like fig preserves or fig newtons!

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