Readings: Exodus 3: 1-8A, 13-15; Psalm 103, Response: The Lord is kind and merciful.; 1 Corinthians 10: 1-6, 10-12; Luke 13: 1-9
Lent is a special time to remember the love and mercy of God that comes to us through Christ’s Cross and Resurrection. This Sunday’s Gospel gives us a myriad of thoughts and “warnings.”
In the first part, Christ disconnects punishment from sin. He counters the mindset then that punishment is a result of sin and emphasizes that it is the refusal to repent that brings about the punishment.
In the parable of the fig tree, we get an insight into God’s “economy of salvation.” God’s grace of love, mercy and forgiveness is always available, but we must ask for it, want it, open ourselves to it—for it to bear fruit in our life.
Two points for reflection: one, God gives us the graces that we need at each moment in our journey; and two, God is a God not just of second chances, but of multiple chances.
The parable is a good reminder that God gives us the graces we need, graciously and generously, and he expects us to make the most of these graces. For each grace, there is a corresponding expectation.
Let’s use the example of a father, mother or teacher toward a child or student.
In his book “Greater Expectations,” psychologist William Damon points out that for young people to grow and develop, we must set greater expectations to which they could aspire for and work towards.
Parents and teachers are to challenge a young person by setting the bar of excellence higher, greater each time he/she achieves the level set. The parents or teachers also equip the person with what he/she needs to meet the expectation.
Parents often say that the greatest legacy they can give to their children is a good education. This is the “enabling grace” and the expectation is they will make something out of themselves, have a meaningful and productive life and career, a good family, etc.
The nature of teaching is shifting more to mentoring, helping a young person discover his/her gifts, purpose and meaning or mission in life. More than being a lecturer the teacher is a mentor, a facilitator of learning, a formator who leads students to a discovery of mission and the “soft skills” to say “yes” to this and to dedicate oneself to living it out with a great heart and soul.
God as a God of multiple chances has two effects on us. First, it helps us not to fear failure. It is not a license to plan for failure, but an encouragement to take risks. God does not demand, but he certainly encourages us to get out of our comfort zone, akin to the setting of greater expectations.
This is the paradox of the Cross that St. Paul describes as: when we are weak, then we are strong. In our weakness, the power of God’s grace sustains us.
Second, the God of multiple chances allows us to work our way through shortcomings and imperfections, and transgressions. When we can embrace this part of ourselves, we can truly accept the fullness of grace in the Cross and Resurrection, the act of grace that forgives our sins and heals us and the whole of creation. —CONTRIBUTED