March 24, 2019: Third Sunday of Lent
Reading: Luke 13:1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
Suffering comes to good and bad alike. It is not a measure of how good or deserving we are. It just happens. It’s part of being human. That doesn’t mean we should give up or give into despair. Rather we should seek forgiveness for our stumbles and missteps in life and prepare ourselves for what’s to come. We are reminded to prepare when severe weather is forecast. In certain parts of the country it’s more a warning than a reminder to be prepared for “The Big One,” the eventual catastrophic earthquake. We should also prepare to face God.
It is now approximately the middle of Lent. Are you stumbling? Having difficulty keeping your Lenten promises and plans? That you fell and hit a wall means you’re trying. Breathe, forgive yourself and start anew. God loves us and rejoices when we try again rather than if we give up trying at all.