In the gospel, Jesus is clearly warning us to change our ways through repentance and reforms: “Unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.” Jesus is telling us that these things will happen to anyone regardless of whether he sinned more or less than others – the illusion of righteousness – a sense that we are good people, better than others in terms of moral goodness (Fr. Michael D Moga, SJ).
This can happen so suddenly that it overtakes anyone in whatever state of life he is in. Jesus sets aright ‘the rigid belief by the Jews on the connection between sin and suffering, a cruel and heartbreaking doctrine which Jesus utterly denied in the case of the individual.’ However, paradoxically, ‘national sin and suffering are so connected’. ‘The nation which chooses the wrong ways will in the end suffer for it’. On the one hand, Jesus foresaw and foretold the fall and destruction of Jerusalem, if the Jews continued in their plot to rebel against the political power at that time – the Roman colonizers. On the other hand, Jesus is also saying that ‘the nation which rebels against God is on the way to disaster.’ As to the fig tree, ‘Jesus reminded men that they would be judged according to the opportunities they had . . . that uselessness invites disaster . . . that nothing which only takes out can survive . . . we are all in debt to life’ (William Barclay).