40 Shades of Lent, Week III, Year C, 24 March 2019
Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15///1Corinthians 10:1-4, 10-12///Luke 13:1-9
From the desert of temptation to the mountain of transfiguration, the gospel on this third Sunday of Lent dives directly into its central message of conversion by bringing us closer to realities of life that are as timely as the news headlines.
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!”Luke 13:1-5
Conversion is confronting our true selves by admitting and owning our many sins that may have contributed to the worsening crises we are facing in our personal lives, in our family as well as in the church and in the society. It is doing away with our favorite past time, the blaming game. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have always been blaming somebody else including God for every bad thing that happens to us and in the world. We tend to forget or even refuse to accept that every misery in our lives and on earth are the direct or indirect results of our sins like sickness and diseases, wars and terrorism, famines as well as economic and environmental disasters. Everything is by our own doing when our sins mar the human face including Mother Earth.
Jesus Christ in today’s gospel is not offering us with a simplistic view on the many sufferings and problems we have for that would also be getting into our own blaming game. He has no intentions of getting involved with our political and economic discussions to solve our many problems. What Jesus is telling us with His strong words only Luke had recorded is for us to read everything from the spiritual point of view by finding God in our human and personal history. And that is conversion, finding God first in our hearts to find Him in our history and in our world.
In the first reading, we are reminded how the whole earth is a sacred ground, the abode of God who told Moses to remove his sandals as he approached the burning bush in the desert. Moreover, God introduced Himself to Moses in the burning bush as the perfect presence, the “I AM WHO AM” who is all encompassing directing our history into His divine will and plan. With Jesus Christ’s coming as the Emmanuel or “God-is-with-us”, God has become more present among us not only on earth but right in every person.
And that is conversion, having Jesus in our hearts in order to find Him among others. Conversion does not mean we change into another person but more of reorienting our life directions in Christ by allowing Jesus to dwell in our hearts. How sad that so often, we would look into others to blame and to change when we forget the fact that the only heart we can convert is ours. It is said that anyone wishing to change the world must first change one’s self. And that is what Jesus is telling us today.
Jesus came to the world so we may experience the Father’s gentle mercy, kindness and forgiveness. By following His direction in our conversion, it is hoped that we find better ways in solving our many social and personal problems. The recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand that killed almost 50 people, the gruesome rape and murder of that young lady in Cebu, the worsening problems on drugs and crimes as well as traffic and the environment invite us all to a conversion of our hearts in Christ to experience His humility and tender, loving care for the lost, the sick and the suffering. See how our arrogance and harshness have only worsened the many social ills throughout history, not to mention man’s continued alienation from self and from one another.
Throughout history, God has always revealed Himself to us in so many ways through Jesus Christ to show us that the only way to salvation in all forms of human life is the way of conversion, to always find Him in the many events happening around us, in the world, and most especially in our hearts. Let us heed Paul’s warning that “whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall” (1Cor.10:12) by learning from the lessons of powerful men and women in the past now gone and forgotten. As we walk in history, God walks with us too, listening to us, sharing with us Himself. Sometimes, changes do not happen right away or as we want it to be but in His time, God’s plans always prevail. In the mean time, He patiently awaits our conversion in Him.