Sunday, March 3, 2013

If you are not as close to God as you used to be, who moved?

“God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. “

(Gospel Text: LK 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 future.
If not you can cut it down.’”

The parable of the fig tree tells us that God is constantly at work pruning and watering and fertilizing us so that we can produce fruit. So often during Lent, we focus on our need to repent. While this is a good thing to think about, we also need to remember that our God is a God of consolation and love. He is always encouraging us. He never gives up on us. He never condemns or rejects us.

Jesus knows who we are. He knows everything about us. So it’s comforting to know that even with all of our weakness and failures, he will still work in us to make us more fruitful if we allow him too. In fact, his compassion is one of the most effective fertilizers around. It’s capable of feeding us and strengthening us. It has the power to lift us out of the pain and setbacks we can experience in our lives and encourage us to take the next step forward to a fruitful, peaceful life.

In our gospel passage today at Mass, the “gardener”, who is Jesus, begs the owner of the vineyard, his Father, to wait another year before the fig tree gets “cut down”. And, in the meanwhile, He will do whatever possible (and the impossible, by dying for us) so that the vineyard may bear fruit.

Sadly, in many Catholic Church’s here in America, the lines of people going up to receive Communion do not match up to the size of the lines of people waiting to go to Confession.

Why is that?

What an immense gift we have been given!  The Sacrament of Confession is an enormous source of interior peace.  The priest raises his hand, and then with a blessing pronounces those amazing words: "I absolve you from your sins." 

"He pardons all of your iniquities, he heals all of your ills.  He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion" (Psalm 103: 3-4).

Sadly, for many Catholics, the Sacrament of Confession has become the forgotten sacrament. 

The Sacrament of Confession is the first act of the Risen Lord.  On Easter Sunday Jesus gave the Church the authority to forgive sins.  "Receive the Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained" (John 20: 22-23). 

Let us always make good use of this awesome gift from God.

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