Third Sunday in Lent (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

Author: José Antonio Pagola · Translator: Rosalino Reyes Dizon. .
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Before it is too late

It has been quite some time that Jesus introduced himself to the people of Nazareth as the Prophet sent by the Holy Spirit to announce the Good News to the poor.  He goes on repeating tirelessly his message: God is near, paving the way for a more human world for everybody.

But Jesus is a realist.  He knows well that God cannot change the world unless we ourselves change.  That is why he exerts effort to awaken repentance in the people:  “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  A more human world that God strives to bring about will be possible if we respond by accepting his project.

Time keeps on passing and Jesus sees that the people do not react to his call in the way he would like.  Many come to listen to him, but they end up not opening themselves to the “Kingdom of God.”  Jesus continues to insist.  It is urgent that people change before it is too late.

On one occasion he tells them a little parable.  A landowner has a fig tree planted in the middle of his vineyard.  Year after year, he comes in search of fruit on it but finds none.  His decision seems to make the most sense: the fig tree does not bear fruit and is using up the soil, so the most reasonable thing to do is to cut it down.

But the vinedresser reacts in an unexpected manner.  Why not leave it for now?  He knows that fig tree, has taken care of it, does not want to see it die.  He himself will spend more time and effort taking care of it, and will just see if it bears fruit.

The account is abruptly cut short.  The parable is left open-ended.  The owner of the vineyard and its caretaker disappears from the scene.  It is the fig tree that will decide its ultimate fate.  Meanwhile, it will receive more attention than ever from its caretaker who makes us think of Jesus, the one who “has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

What we need today in the Church is not only to introduce small reforms, to promote “aggiornamento” or be diligent about adapting to our times.  We are in need of repentance at a deeper level, of a “new heart,” of a responsible and resolute answer to Jesus’ call to enter into the dynamics of the Kingdom of God.

We have to react before it is too late.  Jesus is alive in our midst.  As the vinedresser, he takes care of our Christian communities that are increasingly more fragile and vulnerable.  He feeds us with his Gospel, he sustains us with his Spirit.

We have to look to the future with hope, creating all the while that new climate of repentance and renewal that we need very badly, and which up to now the decrees of the Second Vatican Council has not been able to consolidate in the Church.

José Antonio Pagola

March 3, 2013
3 Lent (C)
Luke 13:1-9

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