Like his Father, Jesus is merciful. He does not wish sinners to die. Rather, he is waiting for them to repent and live, full of fruit of righteousness.
Some people tell Jesus about the slaughter of Galileans. Are they Zealots who want to win him over? Are they waiting for him to speak out against Rome?
But then they may just be people looking for an explanation. Are they waiting for Jesus to help them find meaning in a tragedy?
Whoever these people are, however, whatever their motives, Jesus rejects the belief that tragedies and misfortunes are God’s punishment. He makes clear that the Galilean victims were by no means greater sinners than all other Galileans.
Moreover, Jesus himself recalls the death of eighteen people in an accident in Jerusalem. Those who died were not any more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem. Judeans may feel that they are better than Galileans. Yet they are in as much need of repentance as the Galileans.
We all, then, must repent, knowing well that no one is just in the sight of God (Ps 143, 2). No one of us really can stand if the Lord marks our guilt (Ps 130, 3). We should only be waiting for the One, in whom there is forgiveness, to show mercy. He is patiently waiting for us, not wishing anyone to die, but everyone to repent (2 Pt 3, 9).
And there is no time to waste, since there is limit to our lifetime. We have to spend, then, our time on earth to be who or what we ought to be.
Jesus keeps waiting for us, wishing us to be fruitful, as the open-ended parable of the barren fig tree teaches us.
We cannot waste our time passing judgment on others, listing their sins and gloating over their misfortunes as God’s punishment. To waste our time so only gives away our warped view of God. Of a mean God who enjoys catching and punishing us.
We should judge ourselves instead. We must ask if our repentance shows in the fruit that we bear. Christian repentance means specifically following Jesus. He is the gardener that keeps waiting and giving us chances. But we do not know how much longer we are going to be here. We can only hope, then, that it is not too late. It is up to us—and we can count on God’s grace—to give the parable a happy ending.
Lord Jesus, grant us to follow you even to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood. You are waiting for us to go about doing good.
24 March 2019
Third Sunday of Lent (C)
Ex 3, 1-8a. 13-15; 1 Cor 10, 1-6. 10-12; Lk 13, 1-9