Third Sunday of Lent: Luke 13:1-9
Einstein used to say: ‘God is mysterious but not malicious’. We don’t know enough to affirm that God never sends us suffering: but we know that if it comes our way it will always be for our healing, never for punishment. When I sin I create my own misery, and possibly that of others too. If I take drugs I can become an addict, and spoil all my relationships and my life prospects.
In our world there are many atrocities with the senseless killing of innocent people. It does highlight human frailty and point to some distorted thinking. Jesus you drew attention to an event of which little is known to point out that all of us are called to conversion. Comparing and thinking we are better is not the way forward. We pray for honesty and humility to hear your call to repentance.
These days many want instant results, immediate gratification, as if knowledge or information can provide answers to all the questions of life. Trees grow slowly, fruit takes time to develop and mature. The same is true for ourselves. Lord, you are the gardener, who cultivate and nourish us. We pray for the patience to wait, the openness to be pruned, so that we are more fruitful to your glory.
Jesus does not leave us unaided. As with the fig tree, he provides us with everything we need to bear fruit. There is an old story which describes Peter at the gates of heaven. The world has ended. The sheep have been separated from the goats; all the faithful have entered heaven and Peter is preparing to close the gates. Then he sees Jesus standing outside. ‘Master’ he says, ‘what are you doing outside?’ Jesus replies, ‘I’m waiting for Judas.’
Jesus will wait for me, too, beyond the end of time. But I can only go to him within time. And he cannot force me to go to him. He stands at the door and knocks. Can I hear his call today?
‘Unless you repent you will all perish as they did’. Some clear words of warning from Jesus, who alerts us to the risk of feeling too satisfied with ourselves and our ways. I ask Jesus to let me hear his words as addressed to me. Yet, Jesus cannot avoid speaking of God’s patience and mercy with us. He is always ready to give us more time, to trust in our capacity to bear fruit, even after many barren years. Am I ready to believe in myself as he does? Am I patient with myself and with others as he is?