LUKE 13:1-9 [or JOHN 4:5-42]
Some people who were present told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’ ”
Repentance and faith
“If you do not repent, you will all perish.” With these words, Jesus strikes fear in the hearts of his hearers and in us. He uses tough love to call us to repentance, especially during this season of Lent.
Repentance and faith are the fruits that Jesus expects us to produce in response to his preaching. The parable of the Barren Fig Tree shows that Jesus is not after applause or outward show of devotion (even though these are good in themselves). He wants bunga (fruit), not bongga (outward show). And repentance is a deep change: a change of mind (our way of seeing things), of heart (our attitude toward things), and of behavior (our actions).
Without this deep change, the apostle Paul tells us, even if the Israelites experienced the same things (being under the cloud and passing through the sea), “God was not pleased with most of them” (Second Reading).
We must pray for true repentance, and not allow this precious Lenten time to be spent only on doing devotional acts, rituals, and spiritual exercises, all of which are good but are not enough. For if we are content with these and do not repent, then after Lent we will go back to our usual ways and usual selves.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.