3rdSunday of Lent ( C ) 2019
Some people say that Catholics are obsessed about sin. It’s not true. We acknowledge sin, it’s part of our lives, it’s something we all struggle with, so why wouldn’t we at least talk about it. I would say we take a healthy interest in sin rather than be obsessed by it. Maybe during Lent we hear more about it than at other times of the year, but that is because Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. We began Lent on Ash Wednesday, as we received the ashes the priest said the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”.
Today’s Gospel takes up that familiar theme. Jesus asks his listeners: “Do you suppose those Galileans whose blood Pilate spilt, were greater sinners than any other Galilean? … No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did”. It all sounds a bit threatening. However, Jesus doesn’t threaten. Remember what he said at the end of that Gospel: when he spoke about the parable of the fig tree that didn’t produce fruit but instead of cutting it down he waited until it did. I hope you realize this isn’t really got about fig trees or fruit but has everything to do with sin and repentance.
The parable teaches us that God is patient. He doesn’t condemn us when we sin. Rather he gives us time to change. Surely you know this. Everyone here has sinned. Sometimes we sin badly. But has God struck you down? The fact that you came to church, that you are here this morning, proves He didn’t. And it’s not as if He didn’t see what you did; God sees everything. The truly wonderful thing about God is that He gives us time to repent; to say sorry. This is what he’s waiting for: for us to recognize the harm we’ve done and say sorry.
However, being human we keep on sinning. We may ask: isn’t there a limit to God’s patience. Surely I may be pushing my luck. One more sin and I’ll be struck by lightening! But think about it again: you are still here, and yet like the rest of us you keep on sinning. No, God gives us time, in fact He gives us a lifetime to repent. Look at the Good Thief; he had sinned all his life, only at the last moment did he repent. Then he heard those wonderful words: “Today you will be with me in paradise”.
No the Church is not obsessed by sin, but it is concerned for sinners. This is why it encourages people to go to confession, especially in Lent. God is calling us to say sorry. He really doesn’t mind how many times we say that word: He can’t hear it enough. And don’t be put off by repeating the same sin; some people repeat the same sins they had as children. Do you think God cares? He understands what it is to be human. He is compassionate and loving. He does not treat us according to our sins, but He does want us to acknowledge them; to say sorry for the damage we do to ourselves, to others and to the Church. So, repent and believe the Good News.