3rd Sunday of Lent

First reading: Ex. 3:1–8,13–15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever; thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

Second reading: 1 Cor. 10:1–6,10–12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

Gospel: Lk. 13:1–9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘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.’”

In other words Fr. Vicente Uy, SVD (Holy Name University, Tagbilaran City)

Sometimes it is rather easy for us to look at the tragedies suffered by others as due to their evil ways. Such was the reaction of the people regarding what happened to the Galileans whom Pilate had killed. The same reaction may be felt for those 18 people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them. Were they more guilty than those who were spared?

In the parable of the fig tree, we might have a clue as to why, today, we have been “spared” from such tragedies. And it is not because we are good or have been good but because GOD IS GOOD! For in his great mercy and compassion, he has put on hold the decision to “cut us down” like a tree, to give us more time “to bear fruit.” As men and women made in the image and likeness of God, the fruit that is expected from us is none other than the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? According to Biblical scholars, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is a Biblical term that sums up the nine attributes of a person living in accord with the Holy Spirit. This idea is found in chapter five of St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which says “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

This is the “fruit” that is expected from us. Do we have it? If not, let’s work on it. NOW! Recall that the owner of the fig tree was given only a year for it to bear fruit. In other words, we do not have much time, so we have to act now. We cannot NOT take it seriously by postponing it to another day. Christ is gently reminding us TODAY, as he did some two thousand years ago to the people of his time. “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.” (Lk. 13:1–9)

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