3rd Sunday of Lent (C)
Fr. Tony’s Homily
Fr. Tony’s Homily
Fr. Tony’s Homily
INSIDE EDITION (2:42) – The maternity hospital in the besieged town of Marupol took a direct hit from Russian missiles, wounding pregnant women. Survivors wandered out, dazed and injured, while others were reportedly buried under the rubble. WARNING: Viewers may find some of the scenes Disturbing.
God’s Mercy and Compassion
All three of today’s readings speak of God’s mercy and compassion in disciplining His children by occasional punishment while giving them another chance despite their repeated sins. Although God’s love for us is constant and consistent, He will not save us without our co-operation. That is why He invites us during Lent to repent of our sins and to renew our lives by producing fruits of love, compassion, forgiveness, and faithful service.
Sin and Tragedies
We know that tragic events can occur randomly, as in the cases of the Galileans and the eighteen Jerusalemites and they have nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the victims. For example, a tornado that destroys a nightclub also destroys a Church. An earthquake or tsunami kills the saints as well as the sinners in the affected area. Drunk drivers kill innocent people. Ride-by shooters kill children and other innocent bystanders. Religious fanatics, terrorists, and suicide bombers cause the untimely deaths of good as well as of bad people. Violent people, with or without provocation, injure their loved ones.
In all these cases, we need to trust in Divine mercy, believing that God is with us and God is on our side, even in those situations we cannot explain. Jesus’ life is the clearest evidence that a person’s suffering is not proof of that person’s sin. While sin can lead to tragedy, not every tragedy is the result of sin.
The first reading tells us how God shows His mercy to His chosen people by giving them Moses as their leader and liberator. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v 6) reveals Himself to Moses from the burning bush and assures Moses of His Divine presence with His people and of His awareness of their sufferings in Egypt. He declares His intention to use Moses as the leader who will rescue His enslaved people. Then God reveals His name as Yahweh (“I AM Who AM”) and renews His promise to the patriarchs (v 8), to give them a “land flowing with milk and honey.”
Our Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 103) reminds us of God’s unfailing mercy: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.”
The second reading warns us that our merciful God is also a disciplining God. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that they must learn from the sad experience of the Israelites who were punished for their sins by a merciful but just God. The merciful and gracious God is also just and demanding; hence, they must be free from sexual sins and idolatry.
Today’s Gospel explains how God disciplines His people and invites them to repent of their sins, to renew their lives, and to produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Citing two tragic events, Jesus exhorts the Jews to repent and reform their lives. With the parable of the barren fig tree, Jesus also warns them that the merciful God will not put up with them indefinitely. Although God patiently waits for sinners to repent, giving them grace to do so, He will not wait forever. Time may run out; therefore, timely repentance is necessary. Hence, one can say, “A Lent missed is a year lost from the spiritual life.”
Choose as many as time allows
1) We need to live lives of repentance, (a) because we never know when we will meet a tragedy of our own.Let us repent while we have the chance.Let us turn to Christ, acknowledge our faults and failings, and receive from him mercy, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life. There is no better way to take these words of Jesus to heart than to go to sacramental confession, and there is no better time to go to confession than during Lent. We are unable to predict when a tragic accident may happen to us. Our end may come swiftly – without warning and without giving us an opportunity to repent; (b) because repentance helps us in life and in death. It helps us to live as forgiven people and helps us to face death without fear. When we repent, we are saying: “I’ve been going in the wrong direction – I must turn my life around.” Repentance begins with an admission of our sin and inadequacy. We cannot see Jesus in all his fullness unless we look at him through the lens of repentance. Scripture says repentance results in forgiveness, renewal, and redirection. Repentance is a statement of regret for the inner condition of our souls, with a determination to have that condition changed.
2) We need to be fruitful trees in God’s orchard. Lent is an ideal time “to dig around and manure” the tree of our life so that it may bring forth fruits. The “fruits” God expects from us during Lent are repentance, renewal of life, and the resulting virtues of love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, and humble service. Let us start producing these fruits in the family by becoming more sensitive to the feelings of others and by accepting each member of the family with love and respect. The Christian fruit of reconciliation will grow in the family when each member shows good will by forgiving others and by asking their forgiveness. We become fruit-bearing in the community by caring for the poor, the sick, the little ones, the old, and the lonely.
3) We need to make the best use of the “second chances” God gives us. Our merciful Father always gives us a second chance. The prodigal son, returning to the father, was welcomed as a son, not treated as a slave. The repentant Peter was made the head of the Church. The persecutor Saul was made Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. During Lent, we, too, are given another chance to repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s love. We are also expected to give others another chance when they ask our forgiveness. God would like to use each one of us as the “gardener” in the parable to help Him cultivate our families and communities and enrich them with grace. Let us thank God for using others to help us bear fruit. Grace is everywhere. Let us always cooperate with grace, especially during Lent.
End of homily
Jokes of the Week
At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, or congregations.
#1 Pastor’s temptation and policeman’s forgiveness: In a large city, a priest parked his car in a no-parking zone because he couldn’t find a metered space. He put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 100 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.” When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note: “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.”
#2: Restitution with a hook to IRS: Nicky Gumbel tells us of a man who sent a check to the government for back taxes with a note attached that said: “I felt so guilty for cheating on my taxes I had to send you this check. If I don’t feel any better, I’ll send you the rest.”
# 3: Horrible mistake: There is the story of a young woman who talked to her pastor about the sin of pride. She said, “Every Sunday I come to church and look around and think to myself that I am the prettiest girl in the church. I try to stop but I just can’t. Am I horribly sinful?” The minister looked at her and said, “No dear, not horribly sinful; just horribly mistaken.”
#4: What do you say when someone around you sneezes? Most of us will quickly say ” God Bless You ” or “Gesundheit” (which is the German word for Good Health). Have you ever wondered why we say “God Bless You” when someone sneezes? Jewish sages tell us that it has to do with an ancient belief that the Lord just blessed that person with another day here on His earth.
# 5: Now I know: One lady told me, “Preacher, I never knew what suffering was until I heard you preach. Now I know.” Some preaching, like some teaching, elicits suffering – and that can be a grace, if we use it.
Please be patient
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Please be patient
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