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A call to repentance

Gospel Reading: 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.’ ”

In this passage unique to Luke, the author turns his attention to issues related to the nation of Israel and its citizens. That he refers to the nation is suggested by the image of the fruitless fig tree (vv 6-9). This allusion does not mean that every Jew rejects Jesus, for many do respond to him, but it does argue that the bulk of the nation, especially her religious leaders, does so, thus leaving the nation vulnerable to God’s judgment (cf 19:41-44; 20:9-19). These texts also show the importance of deciding that Jesus has come from God. The first incident (vv 1-5) examines the issue of judgment, especially as tied to tragic events. Jesus argues that judgment will come on all if they do not repent. The second part involves a parable (vv 6-9), and it tells Israel that she has a short time to respond before facing national judgment. There are questions posed, but the theme of repentance is the one emphasized (cf 3:8; 5:31-32; 15:1-32; 18:9-14; 24:47). Jesus has in mind that change of direction coming from a modification of orientation after hearing God’s messenger. Before one repents, one is not concerned about being related rightly to God. With repentance comes a change of mind that effects an alteration in direction, since one’s orientation of life is directed to God.

Since we are all sinners, we all need to turn to God for forgiveness (cf Rom 3:20-26).

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.