THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
(Violtet) Cycle C/Year II (February 28, 2016)
Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15/1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12/Lk 13:1-9
“If you do not repent, you will all perish!” This sentence of Jesus may seem harsh to the Israelites who heard him said it and even to us who perfectly know that God is love. The fact is that it is rather a pronunciation of care not only for the Israelites who were then listening to him but also for us who hear his plea for our repentance.
God so loves us and cares for us so much so that He sends His begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to share with our own weak and fragile human nature except sin just to redeem us from the claws of death and sin. Jesus Christ himself offers his very life as a living sacrifice for our sins so that we may, in turn, share with his divine nature of being Son of God. Thus, in him and with him, we share the divine life and become children of God.
On the other hand, the initiative and the mercy of God will never work unless we cooperate with Him. He has given us the freedom and free will to decide for ourselves, things that make us reflect his divine image. For this reason, He respects whatever decision we make and never forces us to do what He wills. The best that He can do is to guide us towards the path of life and to warn us against the things that can lead us to spiritual death, that is, separation from Him.
“If you do not repent, you will all perish!” These words of Jesus persuade the Israelites to stop from being stubborn and to follow His teachings that will lead them to eternal life. The same words encourage us not to be content with our present life but to ponder on what is happening to us, to know our weaknesses, faults and sins, to repent and to follow the words of Christ so that we may not perish but have eternal life.
The problem is that most of the Israelites think that they are not sinners since they are the chosen people of God. They consider the sick, the outcast, the poor and even those who die as sinners because of their fate. For them their misfortune is a sign of their sinfulness. We have also the same attitude with the Israelites. We tend to think that those who are suffering from pain, sickness, injustice and poverty experience such misery because of their own faults. We never realize that we are part of the cause of their suffering and that we never dare to blame ourselves.
The words of Jesus Christ remind us that nobody is exempt from sin. All of us are sinners and must bend our knees to the Lord in supplication for his mercy and forgiveness. But we will never come to know of our sinfulness unless we stop from what we are doing and where we are going, kneel in front of the image of the crucified Lord, and then reflect on our actions, words and thoughts. Only when we humble ourselves to the Lord and recognize that He and not we is the Lord of ourselves do we begin to know of our nothingness in front of God, acknowledge our guilt and accept that only He can lead and give us what we are searching for which is eternal life.
This season of Lent is the appropriate time for having a break from what we commonly do daily. Just like the vehicles that need to stop for refueling, we too need to stop on this season not only to strengthen our spiritual life but also to redirect our lives by answering the basic questions of life: Who are we? Why are we here in this planet? Where are we heading for? As Christians, these questions must lead us to re-centering our lives in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Only Jesus Christ is the answer to all our questions in life; only He can satisfy to its fullest our hearts’ desires. With Him and only when we are with Him must we continue our journey and our daily activities.
“If you do not repent, you will all perish!” God is so good that He gives us time and opportunity to come back to Him. He is not a god who does not care for us; neither is He a god who abandons us after creating us and putting us in this earth described as the valley of tears. Rather, He is a God of love and mercy, a God of patience and forgiveness and a God of tenderness and consolation. In short, He is a Father who treats us as His own children by adoption in the Lord Jesus Christ, His only Son by divine nature. Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life, is the only mediator between God and us. Only He is sent by His Father to bring us back to Him. Only with Him can we really be united with God, our heavenly Father.
With the said words, Christ calls us to repent not tonight neither tomorrow nor the following day but today. Christ’s call is the call of God and God’s call, being God-the totally present, is always now that demands response at the present moment. We must never delay our response since we do not know the mind of God nor our future. Relying on the mercy and providence of God, we must submit ourselves now and be led by His summon of repentance.
We ask the help of our Mother, the Virgin Mary, who is the refuge of sinners. May she guide us towards a genuine repentance and direct our lives to her divine Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.