3rd Sunday of Lent (C)


Featured Homilies


Unless You Repent



“Thank God, I wasn’t there!” That was my first reaction when I saw the video of a speeding car on the Penang Bridge overtaking others in a haphazard manner and finally spinning out of control before hitting another car that plunged into the sea. It was all too surreal! “Thank God, I wasn’t there!” “Thank God, it’s not one of my loved ones or someone that I know! Thank God!” I arrested myself at that very moment for having uttered such a selfish and insensitive remark and using the name of God in vain. But I guess, we’ve all been there, whenever we hear of some tragedy or another, many of us have echoed that familiar refrain, “Thank God, it wasn’t me!”

The people, introduced at the beginning of today’s gospel, who were speaking to Christ of the recent atrocity were obviously troubled by the slaughter of their fellow countrymen while they were either in the Temple or on the way to the Temple to offer sacrifices. They too may have sighed with relief, “Thank God, it wasn’t me!”


The words of our Lord serve as a “memento mori.” Roughly translated, the Latin phrase means “remember death.”


Are My Troubles a Punishment
from God?



Does God punish us for our sins by sending us disease and disaster? trials and tribulations? disappointment and distress? Jesus answers those questions in today’s gospel and his answer is, “No.” Did those particular Galileans suffer because their sins were greater than their neighbors? No. Were those who were killed by the tower that fell in Siloam? more guilty of sins than others who weren’t harmed? No.

Problems, accidents, illness, crises, disappointments, hurt and pain: these visit every human life precisely because every life is human which is to say that every life is fragile, weak, vulnerable and mortal. My difficulties are not punishment from God – even though, and Jesus is clear on this as well – it’s certainly possible that some of my pain and problems result from how I live my life: how I fail to care for my mind, my body, my soul; how I fail in faithfulness to others; how I fail in being honest and just; how I fail in respecting and reverencing life and its gifts; how I fail in being generous with what I have.



Repentance Avoids Two Extremes



On Ash Wednesday we agreed to repent. How have you done? Do you wish that you were doing more for Lent this year? Or if you’re doing enough, are your external observances leading yet to an internal renewal? Are you repenting well? Good repentance avoids two extremes: One is to take all the blame. Many people who are victims, especially of abuse, blame themselves. It is hard for some of them to declare their innocence even when outsiders clearly see the guilt of the perpetrator. The other extreme is to take no blame for anything even when we know we are guilty of bad decisions, including ones that harm other people. In a culture that emphasizes self-worth, we are schooled to think of ourselves first and of everyone else much later. Some of us take the extreme belief that we do not need to repent because we have done nothing wrong.


Repentance and Real Change



Every day, it seems, the news media relates all the tragedy that has befallen different people and nations of the world. Often, it is only the local news that says anything about the bright side of life. Nevertheless, most of what we read and hear leaves us untouched. It makes little or no impact on our lives.

But then something happens which brings us up short – because it does touch our lives deeply. Someone close to us suddenly dies. There is a terrible, life-changing accident experienced by someone close to us. We are truly shaken and moved to take inventory of our own life. We look at our assumptions, our relationships, our habits, our lifestyle – like never before. And, very often, we are moved to make changes. We decide to live life differently – to make important changes, to be a better person

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Another Chance

Claret Media Cameroon

Life is wonderful.  Life is precious.  Life is also short. 
Have you been enjoying God’s special treatment without giving anything in return? If so, respond to the gardener’s patient care, and begin to bear the fruit God has created you to produce. Life is wonderful.  Life is precious.  Life is also short.  We have got to make the best use of every day that we are granted.  We are each the fig tree in the parable.  The Father owns the vineyard; the Son is the gardener giving us the ability to grow.  The Spirit is the gifts that we have which will attract others.  But we have free will.  It is up to us to choose to bear fruit for the Lord. As we look at our lives during Lent, we ask ourselves: Are we bearing fruit?


Evil is Not God’s Will


We do not know why bad things happen. Saying, “God is responsible,” is an attempt at an explanation, but it is an unfortunate one. It makes God to be a cruel and heartless god who would wish the death of the innocent. Yet, the desire to find an explanation for evil is very strong. Therefore, when evil happens you will always find people seeking to explain why a bad thing is somehow a good thing or why the people who suffer somehow deserve it.

This is what happens in today’s Gospel. Some of the people in the crowd tell Jesus that Pilate murdered some Galileans and their implication is that the Galileans were killed because they were sinners. Jesus rejects this explanation out of hand. He says, “Do you think those Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans?” Jesus adds another example of evil, an accidental one. He talks about a tower that fell on eighteen people and killed them. Then he asks, “Do you think that those people who died in that way were greater sinners than all the other people in Jerusalem?” Jesus’ answer is clearly “No.” Trying to explain the origins of evil is senseless. We simply do not know.



Hope of the Innocents

 | 2022
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

Let us not lose hope. Let us pray… for all innocent victims across the world
By going to Jerusalem knowing what was in store for him, Jesus shows that he goes freely. His is an act of sacrificial love. And in allowing himself to be taken prisoner, to be stripped of his garments, to be tortured, and to die abandoned by almost everyone, Jesus does not simply reinforce the fact that there are innocent victims; he also opens up the opportunity to show forth the glory of the resurrection: the definitive revelation that the power and love of God is greater than sin and death. God does not forget the innocent victim. Injustice and cruelty will not have the last word.



If You Don’t Repent, You Die!


“But I tell you, “…unless you repent, you will all perish as they did!” What a response! That’s what Jesus gives back to the persons who approach him with a concern as serious as the massacre. What does this Gospel evoke in you? Well, whatever the feeling, the most important thing would be finding out: how does this word accompany us in living this season of Lent in a fruitful way?

There are a few expressions that pop up in mind as my reaction to the Gospel: What have I done to deserve this? This comes from the feeling that the misfortune that befalls me is God punishing me. Here we have the image of a vengeful God always on the lookout for transgressors to punish them. Such way of thinking feeds on the understanding that it’s God who sends the misfortune.

The other expression is: you had it coming for you. From a retributive image of God, comes also the judgement. We look at some people with an eye that the misfortune they suffer is out of their own making -so they merit it. Consequently, we are scarcely compassionate with them.


Hell is a Real Possibility



If you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall,” St. Paul warns.

“Nearly they stood who fall,” C.S. Lewis says in a poem. “Themselves, when they look back, see always … one torturing spot where all, by a possible quick swerve of will yet unenslaved … might yet have been saved.”

“Nearly they fell who stand,” he continues. “These, with cold after-fear, look back and note how near they grazed the Siren’s land.”

“The choice of ways so small,” he concludes; “the event so great.”


Unless You Repent, You Will All Likewise Perish



Unless we repent, we will all likewise perish. Bringing it even nearer to home: Unless I repent, I shall likewise perish.  Do I believe that? Or is Jesus talking to others? Can I get to a stage where I no longer need to repent? where I have changed enough? or where, although I can still improve, I have done enough, at least to avoid perishing?

From what I know of the Gospels, what concerns me is that the ones who thought they were going well were precisely the ones that Jesus thought weren’t.  The Pharisees, for example, tried really hard to be good – harder than most others.  By and large, they had got their act together – certainly they thought they had.  They honestly could not see their sin.  What makes me think I am different?


It Is Never Too Late to Turn to God



In this Sunday’s Gospel passage Jesus is teaching his disciples never to let their lives be so out of control or far from God that the turning to God becomes more and more difficult, though never impossible. Our free will is just that: not being forced to choose for God and the ways of the Gospel, but truly free, leaving us with the ability to choose for God and life or seek the way of error and separation from God. That we want to avoid at all costs. It is never too late to turn to God.

Someone has said that we Christians speak much about God but in fact very little to God. In Lent we are being called to speak to God, to be people of prayer, striving for union with our Maker, at all times and everywhere. Our annual observance of Lent, forty days of special prayer, fasting and almsgiving or doing good, is a golden opportunity to meet our God and belong more fully to the One who ultimately satisfies the longings of the human heart.

“The Lord has promised to be at our side in good times and bad, in joy and in sorrow, and in this we can take great delight, for our God will never abandon us.”

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB ” 2022


Christ the Gardener


In this Sunday’s gospel (Lk. 13:1-9) we are given an image that is worthy of reflecting upon. Christ presents himself as the gardener – the one who patiently and humbly works in the situations of our lives to bring forth life and healing. In the parable offered by our Lord we are told that the owner of an orchard wants a fig tree that is not bearing fruit cut down yet the gardener intercedes on behalf of the tree. He will cultivate the ground and fertilize it and then see what will happen. Then it will be decided whether to cut down the tree or not. It is interesting to note that the parable ends here – left unfinished. This in intentional, I believe, on our Lord’s part because by leaving it unfinished we are brought into the parable. We cannot avoid the conclusion that we are the fig tree.


Making the Best Use of Our Time



People have always suffered. Whether it is through disease, or the results of violence, or the result of natural disasters. It is normal for people to ask, as perhaps you have asked, “Has God lost control? Doesn’t he recognize what is happening to his people?” In the Gospel for today Jesus says, “God knows,” but the time is not yet ready for him to come to judge all people, to bring evildoers to their just ends and to protect the innocent victims of evil. Just as the farmer gives the fig tree one more chance to bear fruit, God gives mankind in general and us in particular a little more time to change our ways. This same teaching is found in the Book of Revelations 6:9- 10, the Fifth Seal. The Book of God’s Plan for mankind is brought forward, but it is bound by Seven Seals. When the Fifth Seal is broken, the blood of the martyrs is heard calling out to God from underneath the Altar of God, “How long O Lord, Holy and True, how long until you judge those who live on earth and avenge our blood.” And they are each given a white robe and told to rest until the full number of witnesses to the Lord is complete.



The Pruning Ax is Always Falling…


There’s a hard challenge in The Parable of the Fig Tree that needs a response from each one of us. When the orchard owner orders his gardener to cut down the unproductive tree, he asks (what at first sounds like) a rhetorical question: “Why should [this tree] exhaust the soil?” Why should we allow a barren fruit tree to live in an orchard full of flourishing trees, when all it does is exhaust the nutrients in the soil? The gardener hears the challenge and takes it up immediately, “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it.” Give me a year to work with the tree. I’ll do everything I can to help it along. Then he adds, “It may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.” A reprieve not a pardon for the barren little tree. What’s the hard challenge for each one of us? Our first answer might be: produce good fruit in the time we have left or face the pruning ax. But we all know that the pruning ax is going to fall on each one of us regardless of how much good fruit we produce. We will all die one day. So, the challenge here isn’t Produce or Else! The challenge laid down in this parable is: produce good fruit every day, hour, and minute you have left b/c the Gardener has already begun to swing his ax. The first fruit we must produce is the good fruit of repentance.

Holy Ground of Being

HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

Today’s reading from Exodus was a favorite of my favorite philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas. The story reads simply enough, but for Aquinas the implications were momentous.

Moses is tending the flocks. He sees a burning bush which is not consumed, and he hears his name called out from the blaze. When Moses responds, “Here I am,” he is warned to “come no nearer.” The spot on which he stands is holy ground. He encounters the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who has come to rescue his people. Yet Moses is hesitant: “If they ask me ‘what is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God says, “I am who am. This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I am sent me to you. This is my name forever. This is my title for all generations.”


God Wants Us to be Sustained and Bear Fruit

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

Now is not the time to despair. Now is not the time to brood over past hurts or focus on the negativities of life. Now is the time, especially in periods of fruitlessness, to seek the sources of nourishment that we are offered. To nourish yourself or someone else who is living in a very arid time of their lives, seek only to spend time with the best of resources. Give up junk TV, wasted time on the Internet and reading material that has no depth. Spend time with people who live fruitful lives and not with people who sit around and gossip, complain or are filled with prejudice and hate. These are the ways that we can become more fruitful in our lives. Cry out to God for nourishment. Have conversations with God that are real instead of conversations that share only what you think is perfect and good. Let the emptiness of your heart be cracked open to the mercy in the forgiveness of God.

Catholic Daily Reflections – Sundays

Exhausting the “Soil” of Mercy

“Sir, 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

Every gardener knows that good fruit is, in part, dependent upon the presence of good soil.  But other factors are also important in the production of good fruit.  The plant must be free of disease, receive water and sun, be planted in a warm environment, be properly pruned, and have space enough to grow.  When all factors are present, good fruit is guaranteed.

So it is with our lives.  The soil in which we are to be planted is the mercy of God.  And this soil is the richest soil attainable for the production of the virtues in our lives.  God also produces the sun, the rain, and the warmth that is needed for our growth.  But, analogously speaking, we must allow ourselves to be pruned.  We must also allow the soil to be fertilized and cultivated in a variety of ways.

Fr. Paul Turner

Repentance Avoids Two Extremes

Some early Christians considered Pontius Pilate a saint. They even named children after him. Augustine called Pilate a prophet. Eusebius said Pilate later believed in Jesus’ resurrection. The biblical evidence is more complex. In John’s Gospel, Pilate asserted the innocence of Jesus 3 times. He tried 3 different ways to change the crowd’s mind: putting Jesus up against Barabbas, appealing to human compassion (“Look at the man”), and calling Jesus a king. None of it worked. Because he literally washed his hands of the case, we think of Pilate like Lady Macbeth trying to rub out the telltale spot. Every week in the Creed we name Pontius Pilate as the one under whom Jesus suffered. Luke mentions him twice before the Passion: once as a contemporary of John the Baptist and at the start of today’s gospel where Pilate mercilessly mingled the human blood of some Galileans with the blood of their sacrifices. It eerily sets the stage for the Passion.

🎧 Listen to Podcast – The Third Sunday of Lent, Year C (2019)

Fr. Andrew Ricci

The Life Changing Power of Repentance

Like the encounter between Moses and God, life changing moments can happen in the blink of an eye, yet leave an impact that redefines us. The same thing happens when we carry out the command of the Lord as we repent of our sins.

Fr. JD Matherne

Fr. Cory Sticha


Fr Paul Rutten

Fr David Violi

Sunday Gospel Commentary / HOMILIES

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