From the fig tree then learn the parable: when its branch becomes tender and the leaves sprout, you know that summer is near. So you too, when you see all these things, know that He is right at the gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all this happens. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
At the beginning of Chapter 24, Matthew addresses the eschatological discourse of recent times. In the first part of this chapter Jesus speaking to his disciples announces the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem, the persecutions and the coming of the Son of man (cf Mt 24,30: "They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven"): "when you see these things, know that He is near".
Matteo was very worried about how things were going within his communities, about the hostile historical, social and religious situation. The cohesion of the communities was slowly loosening, so he wanted to encourage them, with a lashing exhortation to the vigilance and the commitment to be fruitful for the good, waiting for a certain, if not immediate, coming of the Lord, which he would bring with him the final judgment.
The parable of the fig buds is an invitation to the Christian community to accept the teaching, the most important, because it is placed at the end of the first part of the eschatological discourse. "When you see all these things" is part of the apocalyptic language and refers to the sad events reported at the beginning of the Chapter, which herald his coming: "but all this will only be the beginning of pain".
Pain is necessary, because it is determined by the end of the old reality and by the eruption of the new one, incompatible with the previous one: "We know, in fact, that all creatures groan, and to date suffer the labor pains of childbirth [...] we moan inside waiting for the adoption to children".
(Rom 8: 22-23).
And Matthew closes with an even more prophetic sentence: "In truth I say to you: this generation will not pass before all this happens". Jesus speaks in a solemn form; with the expression "In truth" it gives the whole verse a tone of unquestionable truthfulness and defines the temporal space within which these historical cataclysms will fall, also indicating the place they will strike: "this generation". It is an allusion to the descendants of those fathers who crossed the desert, but who did not enter the promised land because of their infidelity; it is precisely with this latter sense that Jesus speaks of "this generation": the reference seems to be addressed to the Jewish people of his time with whom he is on a collision course and with whom a harsh controversy has unleashed, especially with the religious authorities.
Matthew sees in the catastrophic events announced, the end of the Jewish world and the old way of understanding the relationship with God. The "new world" is instead founded on the Word of Jesus: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Mt 24.35). All that is ephemeral passes and what remains is God, to whom also the word of his Son belongs, whose divinity and whose sonship was made manifest in the resurrection, who revealed the divinity itself of the word of Jesus and its credibility.
At the center of everything, therefore, is the coming of the Son of man, for whom Matthew invites the communities to pay attention to the signs described by Jesus, without being deceived by the crowd of provocative voices of false prophets. Knowing about the things of God is only an act of giving of the Father, who works in the Son, and reveals himself in him and for him.
Nobody can grasp the mystery of God and his world if this has not been revealed to him, that is, given, and it is an acceptance that can only take place in silence and in the profound contemplation of what has been revealed: the noise, the frenzy and the gossip they are not compatible with divine revelation.
It is precisely these traits of veiled secrecy, obscurity, unpredictability and uncertainty that push the believer to be always present, attentive and alert, without letting himself be led astray by the commitments and difficulties of the present, without ever allowing himself to be absorbed entirely by the things of the world.
Christian life must lead to the search for Wisdom that must not run aground in the false certainties of a faith that is the fruit of intellectual techniques, but the revealing intervention of God. Faith is ultimately the intelligence of the soul, who knows how to cross in spiritual research that line between the finite and the infinite, and continues - in contemplative adoration - the dialogue that stops at the threshold of the mystery.
Learn this parable from the fig tree: when its branch becomes tender and leaves its leaves, you know that summer is near; so you too, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.