Two stories from everyday life. Two calls to repent and to change the direction of one’s life. Within nine verses, we encounter the humility, compassion and patience of God alongside a warning that we will perish if we do not repent.
In today’s gospel, it begins with the Galileans and the 18 killed by the tower of Siloam, someone in the crowd ask Jesus twice, “Do you think that because they suffered in this way, they were greater sinners? Both times, Jesus responded, “By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will perish as they did!”
And I was struck on the second part by Jesus’ image of a gardener who is willing to invest more energy and resources in a tree that has not served its purpose. The owner of the tree seems to be fair and just – the tree has not bear fruit in three years and offers no value, yet it continues to take up space and nourishment from the garden’s soil and continues to demand maintenance. The gardener insists on nourishing the tree instead of cutting it down. And I come to realized that it is based on something deeper than logic. He demonstrates patience and hope on the tree.
Jesus is calling us to humility to set aside the tendency to judge the worth or deservedness of others or the need to feel right or more righteous. We are called to have a tender of hearts, generosity towards other people and willingness to see our own interests in others as we see the face of God in each and everyone of our family members, friends and neighbors. God gives us the grace to learn and grow in humility. Our faith called us to cultivate our relationship with the Lord.
Every day we hear news reports of accidents, natural catastrophes and attacks that take innocent lives. And action taken by others with little thoughts about what is just. We cannot control the events that can happen to us with the rush of events and everyday life. We all have weaknesses and strength like everyone else. We are going about our daily lives and suddenly caught up in an event that will happen to come on our way. As Christians, we are called to nourish and love before pursuing what we consider fair. I know it was difficult in different circumstances; however it helps us to understand how God loves. Perhaps there are parts of our lives that have not produced and developed as we hope they would or things for which we must repent. On this season of Lent, the purpose of repentance is not to focus and sec our weaknesses, rather our repentance helps us to recognize how much time and nourishment God offers to us.
Jesus calls us today to repentance, not a one-time change of heart, but a daily transformation of our lives. Our repentance and fruitfulness begins with recognizing the wrong that we have done and the good that we have failed to do. It helps us to recognize the profound love God offers and because God is love – this love nourishes our whole being and this way we can respond to our family, to our friends, lo our neighbors and to our hardships in a new and radical way that bears fruit. Amen!
- Source: March 24th 2019 issue of the Neo Jeremiah Voice of the Young Prophet Newsletter