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Do you bear fruit?
3rd Sunday of Lent
Jesus received a tragic report.  Some Galileans were killed by Pilate and their blood was mingled with their sacrifices. Jesus knew there was something the people wanted to insinuate, that these dead were the worst sinners in town.  Jesus even offered another instance of similarly tragic nature. Eighteen men died when a tower fell on them.  Did the people think they were also great sinners because they suffered thus?
In the gospel for the third Sunday of Lent (Luke13), Jesus carefully scrutinizes the hearts, the motives of the people who came to him.  They so easily accused others and imputed since on others. That is a strong human tendency.  We gloat at others people’s misfortunes and think they deserve them because of their unworthiness. This is the object of rumor and gossip mills.
But the Lord took a different response.  He did not join the people in their speculations.  He taught them it was not their business to judge other people’s conscience.  Jesus shared the parable of the fig tree.  He wanted the people to see that God does not want us to see the “others” change before our eyes.  It is rather that God wants to see the change in “us”.
A man planted a fig tree and cultivated and nourished it.  For three years he has been visiting his tree in search of fruits, but continually he was disappointed.  The caretaker suggested that the tree be cut down.  The man refused to give up.  Give it another try, he said.  Maybe in the future, it will bear fruit. 
The parable shows us that while we expect others to prove their worth, to show they are worthy, to manifest their innocence, the Lord is actually probing our hearts and inviting us instead to bear fruit.  And how patient he is in his invitation.  We must admit that we are lacking fruit but God if always faithful in visiting his people.  The call to conversion is first of all personal, as the encounter between God and Moses on the mountain in today’s first reading (Exo 3).
Last week has been a difficult week for me.  People came to me reporting about a person they accuse of a terrible wrong.  And other people cheered on as the accused was humiliated, feasted on and maligned.  It turned out that all these things were conditioned by a few persons secretly settling a grudge.  When questioned, one by one, the accusers admitted to exaggerations and outright lies to destroy a person.
Like the people in Jesus’ time, do we look at others and demand of them what we ourselves do not do?  Are we content in accusing others with faults we know reside more steadfastly in our hearts?  Do we think others must be converted while we are immune from the call to transformation?
It is not our neighbor who must change.  We all must desire conversion.  The call is personal like the encounter between God and Moses, in the mountain called Confession. When we open our hearts to this humble meeting with God, maybe like the fig tree, we will bear fruit in the coming days and years of our lives.