3RD SUNDAY OF LENT – C
If you have a facebook account, how is your timeline?
Whenever tragedies happen, we never think that the poor victims are sinners being punished by God, nor those who survived are more loved by God than others. The tsunamis of Japan and the Southeast Asia, the hurricane in Florida, USA, the earthquake in China, the bushfires and floods across Australia and other natural catastrophes around the world did not happen because God wanted to punish the atheists, Buddhists or sinners. Then why did they happen? Because they are part of natural law, they are beyond the control of human power. When they happen powerful nations such as USA, Japan, China, Australia, etc. become powerless in terms of the loss of lives. But as Christians we see them as God’s signs for the world and for us that life on earth is mortal, fragile and at the same time mysterious.
The parable of the fig tree in the second part of the gospel this Sunday further explains the purpose of life. Like any other fruit bearing tree, the fig tree is expected to yield its produce otherwise it is good for nothing. That fig tree is us and we are meant to bear good fruit. Each one of us is given a timeline on earth. Unlike non-believers we just do not simply exist or vegetate or else what is the point of living? As Christians we see life in the context of a faith journey which we call pilgrimage. From the moment of conception inside our mother’s womb until we lay in our tomb, everything in between is a preparation towards the fullness of life with God. Because we are on a journey our timeline progresses towards that final goal which is God.
Lent is the time in our life’s journey with the Church when we stop and evaluate ourselves. This is the moment when we look at our timeline and ask: “How much have I given back to life in terms of my contribution as a Christian in the history of salvation of which I am part of? As a member of humanity, how much have I done for the betterment of the world? Have I loved enough in as much I am loved by God?”
This is the fruitfulness that was being asked of the fig tree by the owner of the land it was planted on. Otherwise if it has not borne any fruit, its uselessness will lead to its doom. Success for the world is measured by how much power, wealth, security and fame one has gathered. These are all the temptations of the Devil to Jesus and to us during the First Sunday of Lent. It is all about the aggrandizement of the self and the deification of the ego. Even if someone does not commit evil but if he/she does not do good either, his/her timeline is still empty.
Because we are talking about time, it passes by as it exists; it dies away moment after moment until we practically run out of time and before we know it our time is up. But even if our timeline loses itself after we pass by it, it leads us to walk towards the future full of hope. This is what Lent is all about, it makes us hope that no matter how useless and fruitless we were at the back of our timeline, there will always be an Easter awaiting ahead of us.