3rd Sunday of Lent Year C - 20/3/2022 - Gospel: Lk 13: 1-9
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Today's Gospel reading has two distinct parts: the first part is humanity's way of life which is in contrast to the second, the divine way. When we follow the humanity's way of life, we cause immeasurable harm and suffering for others. When we follow God's way, we are fully alive because God's way is:

'full of compassion, rich in mercy, slow to anger, abounding in love' Ps 103: 8.

The Bible's text records two deadly events. The first event was about the misused of power. Pilate, the governor, showed no mercy to the innocent Galileans who came to the Jerusalem Temple to worship. To humiliate the victims further, he 'mingled their blood with that of their sacrifices' Lk 13:1. The second event was when a part of the tower at Siloam randomly felt and killed eighteen people. This would be either a sheer natural disaster, or the result of human structural error. Both events tells us about the fragility of a human life which is holy, precious and yet very delicate. It also tells us about the cruelty of life. Instead of showing compassion for the victims, many condemned them, saying these people died because they were great sinners. Our society often judges criminals harshly. Jesus told us, we are all sinners and should be aware of the destruction nature of sin. It causes an inner death which is hidden from our eyes. God's nature is love. Instead of punishing us sinners, God, in His mercy, calls us to repent. Evil exists because we, as humans, exercise our own free will. God has the power to stop this, but chooses to respect our free will. God's way gives us a second chance, to repent and to return to God. Jesus encourages us to take every opportunity to make change while it is still available because the offer to repent is not without end.

The second part of the reading makes clear what God would to do us, sinners. Refusing to repent means choosing to follow a path that leads to doom. When the heart of a person is unable to show compassion for others, that person knows no love. That person is very much like a barren fig tree; it takes space and bears no fruits. The owner of the garden, for three years, had found no fruit on the fig tree he had planted. He told the gardener to

'Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?' Lk 13.8.

The verdict was given 'cut it down', but the gardener asked to have more time. More time was given, not to the fig tree, but to the gardener. The gardener gave extra time to the fig tree. He would spend time to care for and fertilize the fig tree. Once he had exhausted every option, if the fig tree still bears no fruit, that would be the time to cut it down. It is interesting to know that the time frame to take care of the fig is defined, one more year, but the outcome of the harvest is not specified. The gardener would accept any harvest, regardless of quality or quantity. The gardener loves the fig tree without limit, and that symbolizes the way Jesus loves us.

We are grateful that God doesn't leave us to struggle alone, but sent Jesus to care for us. Jesus asked the Father to give us more time. Tragedy of life is not the immediate cause of sin, but it tells us that life and death are intertwined, and we have no absolute control of life.

Jesus calls us not to lose hope in God's mercy. Hope in God leads to repentance and repentance leads to eternal life.