When the disciples were come they brought pine-cones, and by the will of God they found a good quantity of dates. So after the midday prayer they ate with Jesus. Whereupon the apostles and disciples, seeing him that writeth of sad countenance, feared that Jesus needs must quickly depart from the world. Whereupon Jesus consoled them, saying: `Fear not, for my hour is not yet come that I should depart from you. I shall abide with you still for a little while. Therefore must I teach you now, in order that ye may go, as I have said, through all Israel to preach penitence; in order that God may have mercy upon the sin of Israel. Let every one therefore beware of sloth, and much more he that doeth penance; because every tree that beareth not good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire.
`There was a citizen who had a vineyard, and in the midst thereof had a garden, which had a fine fig-tree; whereon for three years when the owner came he found no fruit, and seeing every other tree bare fruit there he said to his vinedresser: "Cut down this bad tree, for it cumbereth the ground."
`The vinedresser answered: "Not so, my lord, for it is a beautiful tree."
`"Hold thy peace," said the owner, "for I care not for useless beauties. Thou shouldest know that the palm and the balsam are nobler than the fig. But I had planted in the courtyard of my house a plant of palm and one of balsam, which I had surrounded with costly walls, but when these bare no fruit, but leaves which heaped themselves up and putrefied the ground in front of the house, I cause them both to be removed. And now shall I pardon a fig-tree far from the house, which cumbereth my garden and my vineyard where every other tree beareth fruit? Assuredly I will not suffer it any longer."
`Then said the vinedresser: "Lord, the soil is too rich. Wait, therefore, one year more, for I will prune the fig-plant's branches, and take away from it the richness of the soil, putting in poor soil with stones, and so shall it bear fruit."
`The owner answered: "Now go and do so; for I will wait, and the fig-plant shall bear fruit." Understand ye this parable?'
The disciples answered: `No, Lord; therefore explain it to us.'