Lk 13:1-9: A Call to Repentance



By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:15:00 03/06/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Did you hear the story about a thief who was caught stealing a truckload of cement? He was apprehended right away. Why? Because the evidence was very concrete!

* * *

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 13, 1-9), Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree that was given all the chance to bear fruit but didn’t. We too are to bear fruits, and our Lenten repentance must be concrete. It is not enough to say “I’m sorry” and go on sinning anyway.

* * *

Righteousness is who you are before God and not who you are compared to others. Let us not fall into the sin of self-righteousness and spiritual pride. The best starting point is humility—I am a sinner, but you, O God, are loving and merciful.

* * *

God has a hard time dealing with self-righteous people who claim that they deserve His love precisely because they think they are good. Remember the story of the prodigal son and the righteous son? The forgiven one became grateful while the good one became resentful.

* * *

May everything we do in life, especially this Lenten season be borne out of gratitude and love for Him who loves us tremendously and who has forgiven us so many times unconditionally. A proud person does not know what gratitude really means. A “self-made” person, for that matter, has no idea as to what grace, amazing grace, is all about.

* * *

Instead of thinking of God as the all-seeing scorer up there, complete with binoculars and camera, why don’t we see Him more as a real companion and a Father with a heart down here?

* * *

In the renewal of vows on their 60th wedding anniversary recently, Aurelio Bautista said to his wife: “I love you Auring all these years.” To which Aurora Bautista simply replied: “I loved you twice as much all these years!” That’s it. That’s the secret for a relationship to grow and last. Someone has to love more. Otherwise it’s only justice we are talking about. Love is the constant going, the extra mile, and the giving of one more smile.

* * *

We can never reciprocate God’s love. God is always the gracious one. He is the God who reaches out, and He can never be outdone in love and generosity. This realization should lead us to humility and gratitude toward Him and toward our fellow-sinner brothers and sisters.

* * *

We are experiencing drought in many places in our country these days. Let us pray for rain to water our plants and trees again. The absence or lack of water affects not only the quantity but also the quality of the fruits of the earth. There is another kind of drought that we can experience, and that is spiritual drought. Let us make sure that we do not neglect nourishing our souls.

* * *

Are you one of those people who just “exhaust the soil”? Are you just all grandeur and pleasure? Are you contributing to the betterment of this world or are you just occupying space? As someone once said, service is our rent for our stay in this world. This Lenten season, let us check if we are paying our rent.

* * *

For Lent, why don’t you have a “project” which only you and the Father would know? Do something good, give up something bad, and let this all be done in secret, and you will experience a joy which the world cannot give nor take away.

* * *

Today, the Lord reminds us that He is a God who gives us many chances, but He also is a God who will make final reckoning and judgment. This is a warning for those who think they will get away with all their wrongdoing. Your day will come. This also serves as a consolation for those who hope in God’s goodness and love. Your day, too, will come.

* * *

By the way, is camote (sweet potato) a fruit or vegetable? Someone once said that it is a fruit because when you eat too much of it, the musical tune “fruittt” comes out!

* * *

Please do not forget that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. We need people who lift us from our darkness, and remind us that life is not all about work and cares. Yes, we need people who point to the “big picture”—that there is a God who is in control, who is the Father of us all.

* * *

Let us take time to examine the kind of life we are living. Concretely speaking, does our faith make us better persons, better citizens of this country and of this world? Our faith must bear fruits that are concrete, and that will endure and last.

* * *

If you are going through any kind of pruning right now, be consoled with the thought that pruning leads to fruit-bearing. All our hard work, trials and sufferings, so to say, will bear fruit someday. Praying, hoping that all of us will live fruitful lives.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that my faith is not complete if it is not concrete. Amen.


Word Alive

Do we heed His warning?


March 5, 2010, 4:32pm

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 causing great devastation to Zambales and Pampanga provinces, not a few considered it as God’s wrath over two “cities of sin” located within those provinces.

There was a rich man who fell into a sickness which the best doctors in Manila could not diagnose. People in the know said he had no appetite to eat and was wasting away. Many of them believed his sickness was not physical but spiritual (na-karma). For many years, the man had been operating an illegal gambling which pervaded the whole of Southern Luzon.

* * *

These tragedies are contemporary events which may be compared to the ones mentioned in the gospel of this 3rd Sunday of Lent. One of these was the ruthless murder of some Galileans while they were offering their temple sacrifices. The victims were probably political agitators and this was Pilate’s way of getting rid of them.

The other incident was a construction accident wherein 18 innocent people were crushed to death by a falling tower in Siloam (Lk 13,1).

* * *

Like the people in the gospel, perhaps we are tempted to feel that the victims of destructive calamities were punished for their sins or their relatives’ offenses.

But Jesus warns us, as he repeatedly does in his teachings, that it is not for us to judge people and their sins. No one but God really knows what is in the human heart.

* * *

Rather than judge the victims of tragedies or their perceived causes, we should learn from their experience by reminding us that we, too, will face eternal damnation unless we’re sorry for our sins and reform.

“You will all come to the same end unless you turn away from your sins,” Jesus says.

* * *

ONE MORE CHANCE. Jesus’ warning is followed by a parable about a fig tree. Usually it takes a fig tree three years to mature and bear fruit. If it does not bear fruit by that time, it likely never will and so it can be cut down.

But this fig tree had already been allotted twice the number of years for it to bear fruit. Still the owner gives the fig tree one more chance, ordering the vinedressers to cultivate and manure it.

* * *

The fig-tree parable conveys the message that God is very patient with us. God is more than generous with the opportunities for us to reform our lives.

There’s a story of a man living in the hurricane-prone suburbs of Florida. He went to a department store downtown and bought a fine barometer. Delighted with his acquisition, he hurried home and proudly hung it on his living room wall. But what he saw made him very angry: the barometer reading indicated “Hurricane!”

* * *

Convinced that he had been sold a defective instrument, he walked back to the department store, handed the barometer to the sales clerk, and snorted, “Hey, what’s this barometer you sold me, ha? I put it up in my house and what do you suppose it registered? ‘Hurricane!” To which the sales clerk replied, “But what I sold you was brand-new?”

* * *

“No, I don’t like this instrument,” he said angrily, “I want a replacement.” “No problem,” the store owner said. “I’ll replace it in a minute.”

The man headed for home with his new barometer, but by the time he arrived there, his house had been blown away!

* * *

We are in the season of Lent and God affords us this time as a grace to be sorry.

Instead of covering up our faults, instead of justifying ourselves or blaming others, let’s face the truth about ourselves and make the necessary step to reform – before it’s too late.

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FAMILY TV MASS – is aired by the SVD Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (MCFI) on IBC 13 at 9-10 a.m. every Sunday.

This Sunday’s sponsor: National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Marilao, Bulacan. Celebrant: Fr. Mar DJ ARENAS.

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