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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Third Sunday of Lent - A Need for Conversion & A Call to Repentance

Third Sunday of Lent 
A Need for Conversion
A Call to Repentance

Bad things happen and while God allows this,
we shouldn’t blame God,
but we should do what we can to
never contribute to evil ourselves
.” Father James Kubicki S.J.

 Apostleship of Prayer
Father James Kubicki, S.J.
A Need for Conversion

In today’s gospel from Luke 13:1-9, Jesus addresses the question as to why bad things happen to certain people. Was it because they had led evil lives and deserved it? In the gospel, Jesus clearly states, “By no means!” (Luke 13:3, 5)

Last month an earthquake brought devastation to Haiti, some suggested it was because the Haitian people were “cursed” because they made a “pact with the devil.” Today there are those who believe good and bad happen strictly because of karma, the Eastern philosophy where the sum of a person’s actions in this, or some future existence, a person’s “fate” is based on what good or what bad one does. But is this how God works?

In today’s gospel Jesus clearly warns that those who are victims are not to be blamed for their situations. Christ calls each of us to respond to evil, first of all by examining our own conscience and then commit to “clean up our act.” “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Luke 13:5) In other words, we have two choices, life and death. To have life is to live guided by God. To choose death is to turn one’s back on God wallowing deeper into the clutches of sin.

God created each of us with a free will. Each moment of each day brings me face to face with a choice. The choice of life or death, virtue or sin, will it be my way or God’s way? Either way bad things are going to happen in my life. My life has been a wonderful series of events bringing joy, challenges, peace, pandemonium, wealth, poverty, health, sickness, life and death. As I look back over these events, the real difference in these situations wasn’t whether there was joy or sadness, the real difference was during those periods of trial was I asking for God’s will and guidance or was I turning my back on God. When I freely choose God as my partner, the challenges in my life created peace instead of pandemonium.

Our gospel ends on a positive note with the parable of the barren fig tree. (Luke 13:6-9) This parable presents a story about the continuing patience of God with those who have not yet repented and turned away from sin. Here the fig tree is barren and the farmer wishes to cut it down because it is exhausting the nutrients from the soil. Jesus replies “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.” (Luke 13:8-9)

During this season of Lent, we are invited to honestly examine our lives, through an examination of conscience removing anything that keeps us away from God. As we draw near to God, He will cultivate our souls with the life of the Holy Spirit. Disasters happen every day, all around us. Our lives are but a fleeting moment and every moment is precious. “Merciful and gracious is the Lord.” (Psalms 103:8) So “if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalms 95:7-8)

Every time we are really faced with a choice to make, it is God inviting us to a more ardent ascent in love and telling us: “My friend, move up to the higher position.” (Luke 14:10). And that is why, if we wish temptation to cease, the first thing to do is to place our trust in God. Whatever desire may rise in us, whatever the moment, whatever fear of falling takes hold of us, we have but to say: “My God, you are there, you see me, you yourself will draw from this storm what is worthy of life, what will lead me closer to you, what will give me greater freedom and at the same time make me more united to you.” Father Maurice Zundel

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