Sunday, March 20, 2022: Third Week of Lent
Gospel – 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.”’
Blood mingling? The tower of Siloam? What is Luke talking about? This inquiring mind wanted to know! The first incident refers to Pontius Pilate, who killed some Galileans while they were worshipping, causing their blood to become mingled with that of their sacrifices. The second refers to an accident – the collapse of a tower – that killed 18 people. Basically, the crowd in the gospel wants to know why bad things happen to good people. Jesus makes it clear that bad things happen for a myriad of reasons: People do bad things. Buildings fail.
The so-called “Prosperity Gospel” (which posits that well-to-do people are somehow favored by God) seems equally (and more egregiously) fallacious. Yet how often do we call ourselves (or others) “blessed?” What do we mean when we say that – about ourselves? About others?
What can you do today to tidy up your own garden? The sacrament of Reconciliation beckons as a way to restore harmony between ourselves and God and our communities. Make a plan today to confess your sins some time during this Lenten season. I know it can be intimidating, even painful. But think of the relief you’ll feel facing Easter with a clean heart!