Look at the Fig Tree

From “Third Sermon on the First Sunday of Advent” in Homilies on the Gospels (ca. 1179) 

“When these things begin to take place,” clearly in the evils that will exist among the faithless through schisms and false beliefs and also in the signs of God’s miracles that will happen then among the faithful, “look up” by knowing and “lift up your heads” toward God by fortitude, namely by faith. “Because your redemption is drawing near,” in salvation, such that you will see the sun of righteousness when in your martyrdom you resist evil and thus reach God. “And he told them a parable,” by way of comparison: “look at the fig tree” – that is, with keen attention look at the bitterness of martyrdom and of anxieties, because these things will later console the suffering, just as the fig tree bears fruit that is displeasing at first and later sweet… longings and inordinate desires will cease to have a temporal existence on that very last day, because eternal thigs will be present then. 

St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a German Benedictine abbess, mystic, and scholar, who wrote extensively on scientific and religious subjects and was among the most influential figures of her age. She received a series of visions late in life, which she interpreted in several volumes of speculative theology, which have been appreciatively received among modern believers. Her Homilies on the Gospels record informal sermons which she delivered to members of her community. This translation is from B.M. Kienzle, ed., Hildegard of Bingen: Homilies on the Gospels (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011). Hildegard’s feast day is January 17. 

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