Luke 13: 1-9
Unless You Turn to God
About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”
Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”
When something devastating happens in our lives we always look for a reason as to why the event has happened. There is always an deep lying thought of ‘that happened because..’ or ‘God is punishing me because…’ and this is exactly what is happening at the beginning of today’s Gospel. People are asking Jesus if God has punished those who have died because of their sins because there is no other reason as to why the people were killed. The crowd are quick to judge those who have died and blame their life choices for why they have died, we are still guilty of acting in such a way today. Without knowing or understanding a person’s background or history we automatically pass a judgement on them.
It is due to such thoughts that Jesus tells us to repent and turn to God in today’s Gospel, for it is not God who is lying in wait for us but each other; instead of tending to a tree that does not produce fruit we are more likely to chop it down. God has given us all everything we need to live, even those we deem as being more sinful than ourselves, but often others do not realise that they already possess everything they need and so will stray in search of something more. It is these people who we need to be merciful towards not judgemental. We need to till their soil and help them grow so that they will one day bear fruit. When we don’t care enough to grieve over a person’s inner destruction we are sinning, we are disregarding what Jesus did for all on the cross.
“If our deepest reflex is not mercy but blame, we too will one day be chopped down.”
Dear ever-merciful God,
During this time of Lent and in this year of mercy, allow us to see those who are dealing with inner turmoil and offer them the support and nourishment they need to overcome their demons rather than turn our backs.
Guide us so that we may reach out to those who others have already given up on so that we may show them the mercy they may not have found on earth so far and show them that they are not alone in their search for new life.