Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lent A Time for Response!

Lent is the time for us to realize that we are dust and unto dust we shall return. It is the time to heed Jesus’ call to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel”. Jesus’ words in the Gospel today bring us, therefore, to the heart of Lent. They remind us that every day we have is a gift from the Lord, but that gift also leads to a task, to bear fruit through a life of faith. They call us to examine our lives honestly and ask if we have been squandering or investing the blessings God has given us— of good health, of talents, of material resources, of life itself. The Lord reminds us that he expects us to bear dividends and that we will be judged on the fruit that we bear.

The image in today’s Gospel (Third Sunday of Lent) makes it clear that we need to do this examination urgently, because God will not wait forever for us to do what he created and called us to do. The Lord, who began this Lent by marking us with ashes and telling us, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” says to us with urgency as he said to his contemporaries after some local disasters, “I tell you, unless you repent, you will all perish.” We don’t want to perish. Jesus doesn’t want us to perish. Now it is the time for our response in faith.

So we have two crucial questions: First, what is the fruit God wants?” And second, “How do I bear that fruit?”

In response to the first question, the fruit God wants consists of acts of self-giving love done for others. We do this by “loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength” (Mk 12:30) and “loving others as Jesus has loved us” (Jn 15:12). This love is more than a wish or good will toward another, but a work, a concrete act of love. There are fruits that we need to come from our spiritual life, that flow from our relationship of love with God. There are also fruits called the spiritual and the corporal works of mercy that we’re called to do out of love for God and others. Each of us is a fig tree which must produce fruit.

In today’s gospel (Third Sunday of Lent) Jesus reminds us, “life is short. Make the best use of whatever time you have.” And, praise God, we still have time. It is not too late. We, fig trees all, have been given another year. There is time for us to repent and believe.

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