A reading from the gospel according to Luke 13:1-9
1 Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
2 He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
3 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!
4 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?
5 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
6 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,
7 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?’
8 He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
9 it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
Reflection: Another Chance
The first part of the gospel reading above speaks about the urgency of repentance. During the time of Jesus, the people thought that a person must have committed a great sin when he or she meets an accident or any tragedy for that matter including blindness (John 9:2). That is why in the story about the massacre victims of ruthless Pilate, Jesus at once shot down the idea that they were more sinful than those accompanying Jesus at that moment.
In our time, we hear a lot of people who die due to natural or man-made calamities such as war and terrorist attacks. Until now some people think that they deserved such fate because of their sins. The scripture is very emphatic that all of us are sinners (Romans 3:23) and therefore all of us deserve to perish. Yet Jesus offers us a way out – repentance.
The second part tells us about the parable of the fruitless fig tree. It deserved to be cut down but it has been given another chance due to the intercession of the gardener. God is indeed merciful. We all deserve to perish but He gives us time to repent for our sins. However let us not abuse the mercy of our good Father. Why wait to repent later when we can do it now? This is the urgency of the message of the gospel. Repent now or we perish.
God has created man for a purpose and that is, to know and to love Him forever. He has planted in us the seed of goodness and love. He has provided us the means to grow and develop as adults. He has given us three important gifts (time, talent and treasure) to use to serve Him and our fellowmen. The question for every one of us now is how we use those gifts.
If we do not use our God-given time, talent and treasure for His glory and instead we make use of them to displease Him by sinning, we deserve nothing less than eternal death. We are like the fig tree. If we do not bear fruit, we are useless and it is much better for us to be cut down. “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)
We may look at others and be contented that our sin is much lighter than theirs. That will not help. The mere fact that we commit sin, we deserve to be punished. Yet our God is very patient with us. He loves us so much that He gives us not just one or two but many chances to repent and be renewed. He keeps on waiting for us to come back to Him every time we go away. But let us not test His patience. The time to repent is now, not later.
Let us glorify Him by using our gifts of time, talent and treasure to serve others. Let us thank God for His patience with us. Let us thank Him for giving us another chance.
“If you do not repent, you will perish.” These are strong words of warning from Jesus. Let us listen to Him and repent while there is still time.