Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 26, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. David 'Dave' T. Buenaventura, SDB
Councilor & Pugad Centre Director and Counsellor, St. John Bosco Parish, Makati
7:30AM Mass, St. John Bosco Parish Church (Don Bosco Church), Makati

Reading 1 Rom 8:1-11

Brothers and sisters: Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death. For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.  The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Responsorial Psalm PS 24:1b-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Gospel Lk 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He 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.’”


Just a brief reflection on our Gospel for today's liturgy. 

What can a barren fig tree tell us about the Kingdom of God? Fig trees are a common and important source of food for the Jews. A decaying fig tree was used in the Gospel to mean evil deeds and spiritual decay. The fruitless fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel's unresponsiveness to the Word of God. The prophets depicted the languishing tree as a symbol of destruction that would fall on Israel because of their unfaithfulness to God. We find this in the books of Joel, Habakkuk and likewise, the book of Jeremiah. And Jeremiah, himself, said that evil people are like rotten figs. 

Can the parable of a barren fig tree be a warning to us also? We can ask ourselves - are we responsive to the Word of God? Is the Word of God part of our spiritual nourishment? Do we use the Word of God for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for trimming to righteousness, as we find in the letter of Paul to Timothy?

The parable of the barren fig tree also shows the patience of God. But at the same time, it contains a warning that we should not presume upon it. God gives us time to get right with Him, but the time is not tomorrow. It is always now. We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden or unexpected death gives us no time to prepare, to settle one's accounts, when we stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment. The Lord wants us to be ready at all times. 

Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepented sin will result in bad fruit and eventual destruction. The Lord, in His mercy, gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin and from worldliness. But that time, again, is not tomorrow, but it is now. If we delay it even for a day, we may discover that God's grace has passed us by, and our time is up. Do we hunger for the Lord's righteousness and holiness?

This is my Word of Life for you this morning, in the form of a prayer. Lord, increase my hunger for Your righteousness and holiness. May I embrace the grace of the present moment, to say 'yes' to You, to Your will, and to Your way of holiness. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.