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Saturday, 19 March 2022 09:23

Third Sunday of Lent - 2022

Third Sunday of Lent

Luke 13:1-9

Elmer Vocations story 150Suffering and tragedy are things that we don’t want to reflect on or think too much about because of the pain that it brings into our lives. If we look at the world today, there are so many natural and human made disasters. Just a few weeks ago, the floods in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales brought a lot of pain and heartache to many. There were a lot of people who have never seen such high level floods in their lifetime. Also, we see the unfolding of the war in Ukraine where the Russian army has inflicted a lot of destruction in different cities in Ukraine which brought a lot of people moving westwards while those who stayed behind were being bombarded by missiles.

Fig tree Twitter DTimeIn the gospel for today, Jesus is being asked whether the Galileans who were massacred by Pilate were more sinful than other Galileans because of their fate. Jesus is very quick to point out that it is not the case. He even gave another example of the 18 people killed when the tower of Siloam fell. Does it mean that these 18 people killed were more evil than those who were spared from that tragedy? Of course not. What Jesus emphasised though is the need to repent.

Suffering and tragedy are so hard to fathom, especially when it happens to good people and evil people are spared. Sometimes it leads us to wonder whether God really exists or not. Many people tend to argue that if God truly exists, then why would he allow tremendous suffering and death in the world? If God is really powerful, he could have done something to prevent disasters from happening like an earthquake could miss a major city or evil people could be afflicted by cancer so that they wouldn’t do harm to other people. However, for those who truly believe in God, God doesn’t work in that way. As Jesus said, “God will continue to give sunshine to the good and the bad”.

When Pope Francis visited Manila last year, there was a young girl who was given the privilege to ask a question. She said she was she was a victim of Typhoon Haiyan in 2014 and she was wondering why innocent children suffer and why nobody was willing to help them. It was reported that the Pope was silent and didn’t give an answer. When the pope was pressed to reply an answer, he just said, “What is there to say?”

For many of us, we may not be happy and content with such an answer. But I think the answer is silence. The answer is silence not because it will soothe and ease our pain but silence will give us the opportunity to reflect and try to find the meaning of all the pain and suffering that we are experiencing. Second, by being able to reflect and be silent, we will be able to find strength to overcome whatever life can throw at us.

The message of Jesus for us is in the parable of the fig. When the master was getting sick and tired upon finding no fruits from a fig that was three years old, the gardener pleaded with the master to give it another year, he would do everything he could. He would cultivate and fertilise the ground so that it may bear fruit in the future, and if not then, it may be cut down.

Life will forever be a mystery to all of us. There will be questions that we can’t really answer especially with regards to pain and suffering. However, the message of Jesus is that we should take time to reflect on our lives and repent. Time will come that all of us will be judged by our Father in heaven and while we are still alive here on earth every opportunity is given to reflect, repent and reform. Let us do this now while we have time because the opportunity will not be with us forever.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

We acknowledge their skin-groups, story-lines, traditions, religiosity and living cultures.

We pay respect to their elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Thailand, and Myanmar.

We are committed to building with them, a brighter future together.