Our Sunday parable ends without us knowing if the additional year of growth and the enriched soil succeed in bringing fruit to the fig tree's branches that next year.
The gardener had agreed that if there were no results forthcoming after this special attention, the tree should indeed be cut down. The intervening mercy of both the gardener and the landowner is a great gift, but it is not intended to last forever. Mercy is offered with the understanding that repentance must follow. The Day of the Lord may be mercifully delayed, but it is surely coming.