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Lent – Sunday 3

Once before Christmas, a man and his wife split up. The woman returned home to her parents and would not be convinced to return their conjugal home. It was nearing Christmas and the children were asking about their mother. The grandparents, after talking to the woman, promised the children that the family would celebrate a “happy Christmas” for all.

The husband was so contrite for whatever shortcomings he had committed and was begging his wife daily to come home. But the wife was adamant and refused to return. She has given up all hope of reconciliation. She has given up on the relationship. She has given up on the family. That Christmas turned out “sad” for all the family.

The gospel today stands in stark contrast to the story above. Once again, Luke tells us that Jesus shows the merciful face of God. God is a God always open to reconciliation. He is a God always open to new hopes, new beginnings, new life. While the woman in our story gave up hope for her family, God is always rekindling hope in the hearts of people around the world.

The parable illustrates very vividly the attitude of the Lord. The owner of the vineyard was already asking for the extermination of the fig tree, after it has proven to be fruitless through the years. “Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground?” But the vinedresser pleaded: “Sir, leave it another year while I hoe around it and manure it; then perhaps it will bear fruit. If not, it shall be but down.”

For God there is always hope because God is “the God of the second chance.” I always remember this inspiring phrase attributed to Luke’s gospel because it is striking and impressive. Jesus, as we find in this gospel, shows the extent of the patience and love of the Father.

There is not a deadline for being good or doing good in the gospel. Jesus is always issuing an invitation to return to the Father’s embrace. And Jesus takes his time; he understands the dynamics of conversion that at times unravels only gradually.

This Lent, Jesus again reminds us that for God there is no hopeless situation. He never gives up on the sinner. He is always there waiting for new results, better results, better responses from us.

Are we ready to give God the chance to embrace us again? Let us listen to his powerful and attractive offer of new life and hope. May this lead us to consider meeting God again in Confession and on the road to transformation and friendship with him.