Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’
He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’
Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
Around this time of Lent we might be starting to weary of our penances and all. Around this time of Lent we might be casting around for excuses for ourselves – ‘I might have my problems, but I’m not as bad as this one or that.
The Gospel sayings offer a check to laxity and to judgementalism.
To judgementalism. To the Lord maybe no-one seems a very much greater sinner than anyone else. Sins are sins, and looked at not in themselves – in terms of the positive harm they do – but from the perspective of the failure of a potential to love maybe they can seem much of a muchness. In any case, let us leave judgement to the Lord… If we do judge, and see fault, let our response be to love and to help, and to show mercy…
And to laxity. Well back to the failure to live love. Seeking to die to sin is all very well, but if it does not cause us also to rise to life and love then our efforts simply bring us to a state of nothingness, of aridity and sterility.
Let Lent bring us to life…
- Who, today, might I ask to pray for me to continue to try to keep Lent well?
- Who today might I offer to pray for?
Stained glass, Hereford Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris