Third Sunday of Lent, Year C.

Luke 13: 1 – 9

If it is true, that the development of the world can be influenced by our faith in Christ, then Lord let this power flow through your Word to us and though us.

Speak Lord, your servant is listening.

You have the words of eternal life.

Our Gospel for today is made up of two parts however the one clearly clarifies the other.

We will now read Part 1.

1It was about this time that some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. 2At this he said to them, “Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans?” 3They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? 5They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.

The prevailing wisdom at the time of Jesus was that misfortunes were a direct punishment from God for sins committed. Jesus emphatically tells us that this is not the case. Twice we hear him say NO! 

The first incident tells us of the ruthlessness of Pilate. The lesson to be learned from it is that – violence begets violence.  Perhaps the collapse of the tower was due to shoddy workmanship or cost cutting at the expense of safety. Once again Jesus challenges the current thinking. He is actually challenging how people understand God. “Jesus makes it clear that the God he believes in does not relate to people through the medium of disaster and accident. God does not prove he is God by manufacturing a liturgy of sadism whereby he can be acknowledged.” 1That terrible image of God is pagan. The God whom Jesus believes in and speaks about does not have a charism for disaster; he is a God who wants people to turn to him and discover their true selves.

No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Repent; Jesus calls on us to change our ways of acting and thinking; to change our way of relating to our God and to others; to take responsibility for our actions; to reconsider what is most valuable to us and then act appropriately. At this very moment the world is threatened by global warming.  Have you asked yourself how you can reduce your contribution to this disaster? Turning off one light for Lent does not seem much but when a million people do this, much will be achieved. In this matter if we do not repent we will create our own disaster and it will be our fault, not God’s.

Part 2

6He told this parable:

A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. 7He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, ‘Look here, for three years now l have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none.  Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground? 8‘Sir.’ The man replied, ‘leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it; 9it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can it down.’”

In this parable there are two characters, A man and the man who looked after the vineyard.  The “man” seems to only interested in the commercial value of the fig tree – he wants figs. The other person has a completely different approach. He is quite prepared to go to a lot of trouble to care for and encourage the fig tree. Even if the fig tree does not respond to the manure and fertilizer he makes it quite plain that he will not cut it down, then you can it down.

These two men have very different value systems. One only values what will bring him profit the other places the interests of the tree (people) first. Once again we are presented with two contrasting images of God.

Here is a thought that may give you a whole new perspective on this parable.

The inedible variety of figs looks exactly like the edible kind. Moreover, edible figs can only be pollinated by the female fig wasp which carries the pollen from the inedible fig to the buds of the edible one.

The cutting down of the fig tree in the parable would have been disastrous – no more figs.

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