Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Sunday,Lent,C.March 18,01.Lk.13:1-9

3rd Sunday, Lent, C, Mar.18, 2001

(Lk13: 1-9)

A few years ago I attended the funeral of a young friend of mine with deep sadness in my heart. He was a daily participant at the early morning masses in the college chapel, a good basket ball player, and a model student in behavior, character and in the practice of his faith. When he developed some pain in his leg, we thought it was because of some injury that he had sustained from his basket ball games. Since the pain did not go, at the doctor’s suggestion, more tests were conducted and in the end it was discovered that he had developed bone cancer. He came home from the hospital with one of his legs amputated. But that did not deter him from being cheerful and accepting God’s will in his life. But, later, the cancer spread to other parts of his body and when he knew that his end was coming near he told his parents that he wanted to see all his priest friends and teachers. It was only with tears in our eyes that we attended his funeral. In those moments we did ask as any one would ask, why Lord, such a promising young man was taken away before he had the time to blossom in life.

The same question was put to Jesus by the people of his time. Why did those Galileans die? Was it because of their sin? By giving another example of the 18 people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them, Jesus made it clear to them that their death was not due to their sin. There was a conception among the Jews that tragedies and sins were related. Job, in the Old Testament expressed the same view when he was told about the deaths of his beloved ones. He said Don’t lay my father’s guilt on me. Even my own sins don’t merit this grief.” Jesus made them understand that the span of one’s life is a mystery hidden in the bosom of God, but what was important was how one lived one’s life.

God’s words to Moses show how caring and provident God is .By asserting his name as “I am” God shows that he is the eternal Act, always in the present, concerned about the lives of his people. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of the living and not of the dead and would intervene in the lives of the people, protecting them, sustaining them and comforting them. Jesus emphasizes the same aspect of God’s concern and love through the parable of the fig tree where the tree is given a further lease of life in order to bear fruit. The parable highlights very strongly many, many overtures of love and opportunities of change given to man.

What Jesus emphasizes is that what is important is the quality of one’s life—how well one can reflect goodness and love in one’s life. What he asks each one of us is to repent, to undergo an interior conversion, to move from selfishness to generosity, from diffidence to faith, from despair to hope.

All of us know that in spite of the external appearance of civility and correctness that we put on, how much we are captives of the power of sin. We know we are wrong many a time and that our actions have hurt our relationship with God as well as with our neighbors. But we still continue to remain in those states of sin, finding arguments to justify our behavior, our anger, our arrogance, or our sinful habits. It is to each one of us caught in the vicious grip of sins, that Jesus says, “Repent”. For, it is the richness of our soul that is more important than all the achievements that we gain in the world, than all the momentary pleasures that we get from the assertion of selfishness to the detriment of our peace of soul.

As one writer has put it: “There is a divine purpose for each one of us; that is why Jesus is constantly summoning us to conversion. Each of us without exception needs to do better, to think better, pray better, share better, care better, love better and live better.” That becomes possible only when there is a daily attempt on our part to subdue our selfishness and allow God to flood our heart with his grace.

As Henri Nouwen, one of our contemporary spiritual writers, points out: “In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal. “In that heart”, he adds, there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred.”

This is the moment for us to ask ourselves where and in what way we can grow closer to God, improve our relationships with the members of our family and colleagues. We don’t realize how irrational sometimes we are because of our selfishness and pride. When some one criticizes us, or doesn’t do things in the way we want, we become angry and irritable. If we just hold our tongue and control the turbulent feelings in our heart, much peace would come in our families and work places. It is appropriate for us at this time to search the depths of our hearts in order to realize the need of repentance in our lives. Do I give enough time to my spiritual life? Is there any one I have hurt through my words or actions? Is my heart open to God? Is there a willingness on my part to accept the will of God in my life? Have I thanked my God for the innumerable blessings that I have received? Or am I still complaining?

During this period of Lent, as we prepare to grow closer to the Lord, let us ask him to give us the grace of real repentance so that we may experience the abundance of His love in our hearts.

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