Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gospel Reflection

March 03, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Lenten Seasons
Third Sunday of Lent
by Rev. Fr. Stephen Mifsud (Mission Society of St. Paul  – Quezon City)
MSSP House Chapel / Mass for the poor)

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, AMoses! 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.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

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.

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.’”


Have you ever heard tsismis? People saying “You know what happened? You know who died? Still young!” In the Gospel of today, Jesus was listening to some tsismis. And the tsismis was about Pilate who killed some Galileans in the temple and also about 18 people who were crushed by a tower which fell on them. The tsismis was that these accidents happened to them because they did something very wrong in the past. That was their belief... that if something bad happens to you or your family, it’s because you did something wrong.
Sometimes this mentality is also present here..  If you do not give something to the poor, something bad will happen to you... It’s called bad karma. If you break up from your girlfriend, your next relationship will suffer! Tragedies can happen to everyone, not only to sinners. What's important is to learn from the sins of others and convert.

For Jesus, the greatest tragedy is not bagyo, earthquakes or tsunami, but to live a life without God, a life with vices and sin, a life without conversion.

To emphasize this, Jesus brings a comparison with a fig tree. If you have a field with fruit trees and you have one which does not produce fruit, even if it has nice leaves, it is useless and good only to be cut down. Our life can be the same as the tree. We might look very nice from the outside, we may have a nice looking face or body, we may have so many things, but if I continue to do sin, then I will not produce fruit. I will become a selfish and proud person, interested only in fulfilling my needs, and not the well-being of others.

The good news is that Jesus gives the tree some more time so that the farmer might cultivate the ground and give fertilizer, and so that it might produce fruit. Do we know what happened after one year? Was the tree cut down or did produce fruit?  So, palagay ninyo?

We do not know. What we know is that it was given a second chance. We also are given a chance by God to repent and produce fruit. Repentance is not just saying sorry but it's hard work. It implies more prayer, trying to do more the right things, to remove wrong habits and to do good things for others. St. Paul today told us, “Do not desire evil things, do not grumble, take care not to fall”. This is part of repentance. 

So let us ask God today to give us the grace and strength to repent and to continue to beautify our lives with faith and good deeds, so that our life may bear fruits of unity, peace, joy, kindness and love.

How much more beautiful your family will be, how much more beautiful this community will be, if all of us... everyone of us... will work hard to live a life according to God’s will. So let us work hard and together remove evil, and let God more in our life.

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