Gospel Reflection: Third Sunday of Lent
Malvern Minute

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

FEBRUARY 28, 2016

Glory and praise to you Lord, Jesus Christ

Repent, says the Lord;

The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Glory and praise to you Lord, Jesus Christ

 

The Gospel of Saint Luke 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 futureIf not you can cut it down.’”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

In many of your parishes this Sunday, you will be listening not to the Gospel of Saint Luke printed above but to Saint John’s Gospel (John 4: 5-42).   Saint John’s Gospel is from “Cycle A” and is most appropriate for parishes preparing individuals for the Easter Vigil to receive the Initiation Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy EucharistSaint Luke’s Gospel is the appropriate Gospel for this Cycle C Sunday in which we spend the whole Liturgical Year listening to and studying this Gospel.

Jesus addresses a parable to the people which draws upon significant symbols and images found in the Hebrew Scriptures.  One of these symbols is the image of a garden.  In the beginning, God placed Adam and Eve in a special garden that He, the Eternal Gardener had planted.  God’s intention was that the creatures made in His image would dwell there in happiness eternally.   It is easy to see that the Garden of Eden is an appropriate sign for the eternal happiness of heaven.   Because of man’s sin however, the first couple was banished from the garden and was forced to till the earth with a great deal of hardship.  However, God never tired of replanting His people in garden settings giving them another chance to grow and produce good fruit.

Often times the prophets of the Old Testament, explained that God had taken His people, Israel like a young sapling and carefully planted them in the Promised Garden Land so that they might grow strong and flourish.   Jesus, the Son of the Eternal Gardener would use this type of image in the parable of the mustard seed.  The seed is an image of the Kingdom of God that begins as the smallest of seeds but with God’s grace grows into a large plant providing protection and nourishment to all who seek safety within its branches.

However, in all cases in which these images are used, there is a real clear expectation of the Eternal Gardener.   The plants, be they saplings, or mustard bushes, or fig trees as is the case in today’s Gospel, the expectation is the same.  The plants, God’s people, are to produce good fruit!  The People of God are to be a source of nourishment, protection and assistance for the people of the world.   The People of God have clear purpose – to produce Good Fruit!

In the light of this Gospel we can interpret the Season of Lent as the Eternal Gardener’s effort at assisting us: I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.  God is ever at work within His garden providing the means necessary – alms giving, prayer and fasting – so that we might spiritually grow into fruit bearing disciples.

In his time, Jesus produced the Good Fruit of healing, proclaiming the Gospel and giving Himself up on the Cross as the First Fruits of the New Creation!  In our turn, our fruits are similar to Jesus.  We assist those with limited eye sight to see more clearly the Goodness of God through our love.  We assist those with limited hearing to listen more actively to the Word of God within Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church.  Yet, above all, our Good Fruit can be and is when we bring another closer to Jesus Christ!

The best Good Fruit that we can offer is lives that are holy … that is, lives that love God above all things and love our neighbors as Jesus loves us!  Our purpose in life, the reason for our Baptism is to bear Good Fruit by bringing others closer to Jesus Christ.  Who in our family might we love more so that they might see God more clearly?  Which infirmed neighbor of ours can we offer to take to church on Sunday?  Could we seize the opportunity when presented not just to promise to pray for another but to offer a short prayer right then and there for a co-worker?  God indeed has fertilized us with the Body and Blood of His Son so that we can bear GOOD FRUIT!   Amen!

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

REJOICE & WITNESS

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

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