Detailed homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme: DIVINE PATIENCE: GIVE IT ONE MORE CHANCE
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka (email@example.com)
Homily for Sunday March 20 2022
R1 – Ex 3:1-8,13-15
R2 – 1Cor 10:1-6,10-12
GOSPEL – Luke 13:1-9
A story was told about a young servant (nwa boi) named Cletus, who gave in to temptation and was discovered as being guilty of embezzlement – He used over one hundred thousand naira (#100, 000) of his master’s money from their daily sales to play pool (Naijabet or BabaIjebu). He was called into the office of the master. He feared the worst and declared in his heart, “The case is over. I’m hopeless and merit no mercy.” The boss asked him, “Bia Cletus, did you do it?” Cletus ducked his head in embarrassment and muttered, “Yes, sir.” The master continued, “You made a bad decision. I know that you realize it. You are the second one in this room who has ever made such a bad choice. Thirty years ago I did the same thing you did, and a very kind and forgiving man gave me another chance. I’m going to give you the mercy and grace that I received that day. Now go back to the shop.” Hearing this, Cletus was stunned. Quietly, he left the office laden with gratitude and unforgettable relief.
Beloved in Christ, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy remind us of God’s call to repentance during this Lenten season and God’s continued ‘second chance’ grace given to us sinners despite our repeated sins.
Just as we read in the introit story,
God gives to us what we do not deserve, even when we are hopeless and merit no mercy. Thus, whenever we commit sins, He forgives us and gives us another chance, for “The Lord is loving, compassionate, kind, and merciful.
The First Reading tells us about the deep concern of God towards his people suffering in Egypt, by manifesting His mercy and compassion He sees the hardships experienced by his chosen people and observes their misery. He had heard their cries of misery and takes initiative to liberate them from the Egyptian masters.
The second reading reminds us that our merciful God is also a disciplining God; who never fails to punish and discipline us while showing us his merciful love. In other words, even as the Israelites all ate the spiritual food in the desert and drank the spiritual drink which God gave them as His people, God was not pleased with most of them for their behaviour. He struck them down in the wilderness, tested them and they remained there for forty years.
In the parable in the Gospel of today, Jesus speaks of the tree which is alive but it does not fulfil its duty of bearing fruit. There is a demand that it should be cut down. The man responsible for the tree requests the owner to give it one more opportunity to fulfil its purpose. If after that, there is still no fruit, it should be cut down. Citing two tragic events, Jesus exhorts the Jews to repent and reform their lives.
*THE PARABLE OF DIVINE PATIENCE:*
In today’s gospel, Jesus narrates a parable about the patience of God – God’s willingness to grant us a constant and consistent second
chance to reform our lives and to seek reconciliation. The fig tree in His parable is a familiar Old Testament symbol for Israel (Hos 9:10; Mi 7:1). As the fig tree is given one last season to produce fruit before it is cut down, so Jesus gives us one final opportunity of returning back each lenten season to bear good fruits as evidence of its repentance (Lk 3:8).
That is why, “A Lent missed is a year lost from the spiritual life.”
Even when we waste or refuse those chances, God, in His mercy, allows still more opportunities for them to repent. And, just as the farmer tended the barren fig tree with special care, so God affords sinners whatever graces they need to leave their sinful ways behind and return to God’s love and embrace. Divine grace is expressed as justice with compassion, and judgment with mercy. But we cannot continue to draw strength and sustenance from God without producing fruit. God does not tolerate this type of “spiritual barrenness.” The “fruit” God wants consists of acts of self-giving love done for others.
(1) *REPENTANCE IS THE KEYWORD TO A SUCCESSFUL LENT*
One of the recurrent themes throughout the Lenten season is repentance. Repentance entails the recognition of areas of unfaithfulness in our lives and is ready to make reparations, from the Greek ‘metanoia’ that stands for after-thought or reconsideration.
However, Our “after-thought”
(repentance journey) or ‘reconsideration’ yields the fruit of “true repentance” through the concession of 4R’s, viz:
(a) The first is *_responsibility_* : We must recognize that we have done wrong. Using the instance of the prodigal son; he recognized his sinfulness when he declared: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Lk. 15:18). Take responsibility of your actions and inactions today, without giving God flimsy excuses as, “God, it’s my husband, sister in-law, wife etc., that caused it” or “I was on my own and he came with his troubles.”
(b) The second is *_regret_* : We must have true remorse for doing wrong and for the pain and problems we have caused.
The prodigal son regretted his actions the moment he declared: “I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk. 15:21). At this point we ask ourselves whether we have ever regretted our actions as a betrayal to God, who had trusted us with certainty.
(c) The third is *_resolve_* : We must be committed never to repeat the act regardless of the temptations or situation. The prodigal son makes the resolve to leave his old way of life for a new self: “I will leave this place and go back to my father” (Lk. 15:18)
(d) The fourth and probably the most difficult is *_restitution or repairing_* the damage we have done, or at least do what we can to apologize directly to the injured party. The prodigal son got home immediately to render apology to the father in the following words: “Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk. 15:21).
This final stage takes place at the Confessional, where we are reconciled to God.
(2) *WE NEED TO BEAR THE LENTEN FRUITS*
The Lenten journey of repentance should yield fruits of renewal of life, multiplying virtues of love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, and humble service. The effectiveness of these fruits should be felt in the families and Christian communities via reconciliation and being sensitive to the plight of others.
(3)*WE SHOULD UTILIZE EVERY “SECOND CHANCE” OPPORTUNITY GOD GIVES US*
God’s constant and consistent second chance opportunity to us sinners decorate the church with myriads of saints. The prodigal son, returning to the father, was welcomed as a son, not treated as a slave. The repentant Peter was made the head of the Church. The persecutor Saul was made Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. The Lenten season gives us another opportunity to return to God in total repentance. Heaven still needs a saint with your kind of sin and disposition.
Finally, there is a story of an Eighteenth-Century King of Prussia, King Frederick II. He was visiting a prison in Berlin. He was going from inmate to inmate, and every one of them was trying to prove how they had been unjustly imprisoned. They all proclaimed their innocence, except one. That one prisoner was sitting quietly in a corner, while all the rest protested their innocence. Seeing him sitting there oblivious to everything else that was going on, the King walked over to him and said, “Son, why are you in here?” He said, “Armed robbery, your Honor,” The King said, “Are you guilty?” He said, “Sire, I am guilty, and I deserve to be here.” The King then gave an order to the guard and said, “Release this guilty man — I do not want him corrupting all these innocent people!”
Beloved, walk up to God and declare yourself guilty during this Lenten season and reclaim your freedom and place of dominion as a child of God.
RECREATE IN US A RENEWED HEART TO SEEK THEE ABOVE ALL THINGS IN TOTAL REPENTANCE. AMEN
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_