LK 13:1-9



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While a young friend was convalescing at home from a major surgery, he shared with me that he felt that this mishap in his life was due to God’s action. He was blessed in many ways but never found time to give thanks. He prioritized other things and so perhaps, the Lord made him go through his present difficulty.


The Lord indeed uses moments in our lives to communicate to us and he speaks to us through our experiences. But be forewarned: God does not make us suffer; he does not seek our destruction, pain or death in retaliation for our negligence, infidelity or sin. This was the very image of God that people in Jesus’ day acquired through their religious formation.


The people who came to the Lord Jesus wanted to use God as the explanation for the misfortune of others. Was it because of their sins that people were killed by Pilate? Perhaps those who perished in an accident did so because they were more sinful than others? These people were merely expressing the image of God they possessed in their hearts. Theirs was a punitive God who in his wrath decides to eliminate those who did not please him.


The Lord Jesus quickly took the opportunity to correct the people. He took the chance to speak instead of the God who sent him, the God he knew, the God who was his Father. As he related the parable of the barren fig tree, he too, expressed his own image of God. His was a patient, loving God who conquers sin, not by destruction, but an invitation to return to his heart. The people knew a punitive God; Jesus provided the alternative of a patient God.


When the pandemic was starting, we heard religious people give their opinions. Some said God was punishing the world because it has become too sinful. They said this event happened as a wake-up call towards conversion. But was it God who was punishing us? Or are we not the ones making one another suffer through our greed, indifference and corruption? The Lord teaches us that in fact, in all our trials, it is God who saves us. He walks with us through our pain. He helps us to survive. He patiently allows us to realize what went wrong, what must be done, and how to do it.


This Lent, take time to focus on the Cross of Jesus. Reflect also on the crosses of your life right now. Do you see it as the work of a punitive God? Or do you see it as the presence of a patient God and loving Father?