Reflecting on Luke 13: 1-9
It’s the third Sunday of Lent, and forgiveness is afoot. The next three weeks give us those great stories of radical love that are the hallmark of the Lenten season in Cycle C−−−the gracious second chance given to the Barren Fig Tree, the Prodigal Son, and the Woman Caught in Adultery. The first two stories are parables from Luke’s gospel, and the third is an event recorded in John’s gospel that scholars suspect was originally told by Luke. Its wonderful compassion for a woman trapped in a sinful culture is so much like St. Luke that it fits perfectly in Cycle C.
I really resonate with today’s unproductive fig tree. There are many areas of my life that continue to exhaust everyone around me, while bearing no fruit whatsoever. (Let’s not fuss with the details, okay?) But year after year I resolve to eat less, be less sloppy, be on time, depend on the kindness of others less and on my own discipline more. (Okay, those are the details.)
I can hear that unfruitful fig tree crying out, in the secret language of trees, “Stop! Please! I’ll work harder. I’ll take less and give more. Please give me a second chance. I don’t want to die.” And we breathe a huge sigh of relief with the tree when the Gardener−−−yes, the very One who tended the original Garden−−−promises to sacrifice his own efforts in order to save the life of the tree. A second (millionth) chance is given.
But watch! The crocus pulls up. The trumpet sounds. It’s the third Sunday of Lent, and because forgiveness has outmatched justice, Easter is afoot.
What radical love have you experienced this Lent?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).