We Are “Chosen” To Live And Grow

Weekly Missionary Reflection

3rd Week of Lent, 20 March 2022

Exo.  3:1-8a,13-15; Ps. 103:1-2,3-4,6-7,8,11; 1Cor. 10:1-6,10-12; Luk. 13:1-9

We see a lot of catastrophes and disasters nowadays: earthquakes, floods, landslides, wars, and accidents. Also, new Pilates appear: cruel and oppressive tyrants and rulers. The victims are innocent people, who are forced to live in misery and suffering. There are so many sufferings: why? Why does God keep silent? This is a repeated classic question, with no complete and satisfactory answer. With great pain, a faithful person often comes to the conclusion that it is God’s punishment. Or at least, it is a warning from the Lord! Today’s Gospel is trying to answer this question. Still, it is certainly will not satisfy all of our doubts and question.

First, pain and disaster are not God’s punishment! This is the point that Jesus emphasized. He used two concrete events (v. 1-2 and 4) to correct this long-lasting misunderstanding. Are suffering and disaster God’s punishments? Jesus stated twice: “No!” (v. 3 and 5). Indeed, from the past till the present, people always believe that suffering and disaster are surely caused by sin (cf. Job 4:7; John 9:2). But Jesus emphasized that suffering and pain are not God’s punishment to our sins.

Second, even though sin is not the direct cause of suffering,  it doesn’t mean that suffering and pain have nothing to do with human sin. In those two events recalled by Jesus, it is clear that Pilate’s cruelty has caused the Galileans killed while presenting their offerings in the Temple. The catastrophe at the tower of Siloam could be caused by the sin of the corrupt workers and wrong design. That means, in one or another way, clearly or in mysterious ways: suffering and catastrophe relate to human sin. Therefore, Jesus asks you and me to be introspective. The news of suffering and disaster should be taken as an opportunity to repent, to reflect, and makeup ourselves. Calamity should be treated as our early warning of final judgment that will befall upon you and me, and all of us will definitely perish if we don’t repent (v. 3 and 5).

Third, God wants us to repent and bear fruit. The fig tree is a common symbol of God’s people (cf. Mic. 7:1; Jer. 8:13). We are the fig tree planted in God’s vineyard. We are chosen to live and grow in the community of His chosen people. You and I have experienced so much of God’s care, protection, and patience through His Son.

God always offers us a second chance, not for making trouble but for bearing fruit. A fruitful life is lived in justice and love (cf. Luk. 3:15-17). That is our “fruits worthy of repentance” (cf. Luk. 3:8). Did the fig tree bear fruit after being given the second chance? Luke does not continue his story. He is a great storyteller. He left his story “open”. Why? To let you and me answer it: Have we repented and bore fruit after God gives us second chance?

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of Indonesian Church of this month:

For Universal Churches: Facing the challenge of bioethics
We pray for the Christians who face the new challenge of bioethics; may they keep on defending the dignity of all humanity with prayer and action.

For Indonesian Churches intention: Political devotion
May in this democratic world all political elites and government use their authority to serve and organize the society, instead of dominating them.

Amen

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