3rd Sunday of Lent 2019
Apr 2, 2019
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT - Rev. Randall P. Patterson
Catastrophes and tragedies are not limited to the days of Christ – we ourselves – are all too familiar – with hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, mass shootings and accidents of all kinds.
Jesus makes it clear that God does not cause suffering. The Galileans died because of Pilate’s wrath – not God’s. The Jerusalemites - on whom the tower collapsed - were victims of misfortune – not objects of divine justice. Sometimes - bad things happen to good people – Jesus is the perfect example - and sometimes – good things happen to bad people.
One thing is certain - life is uncertain for all of us. When tragedy strikes or the end comes – we can be left with regrets. This is true not only about our final hour it also applies to sudden changes - or upheavals in life. We can be totally unprepared - have serious regrets – want a “do-over” - but it’s not possible. However – we can repent of our mistakes and sins and make corrections as we move forward.
The loving Father of Jesus watches over us – not to catch us in sin and punish us – rather – because he cares for us - he’s like the experienced gardener in the parable of the fig tree – he gives it one last chance - he cultivates hope – sometimes it takes years for a tree to bear fruit. As the gardener considers the tree and hopes for a change – so God watches each of us – looks into our hearts – and waits for a change of attitude and conversion. He gives an extension – conversion requires patience.
God is an excellent gardener – cultivating souls. He loosens the soil – applies the fertilizer of grace – prunes and encourages us to put into practice what’s in keeping with who we are – daughters and sons of God. Sometimes – God’s interventions are drastic – but they are proof of love – what may seem like injury to us - is his work to heal us.
Where is God in the face of human misery today – where was God on Good Friday? - in the thick of it – in the wounds and pains of human life – suffering on the cross – at one with us – even to death – so as to raise us up to the fullness of life.
To live the Christian life is to walk the path of conversion – and to encourage each other - to seek and follow Jesus. We hope that no one strays – no one delays. The compassionate gardener – who begs that we not be cut down and trashed – is Jesus – who intercedes for us till the end of time: “Wait a little, while I will attend to you with greater care.” For now – let us intercede for each other – that no one placed in our charge and our environment – is lost.