Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C

Repentance Provokes God’s Compassion And Mercy

Rdgs: (1st: Ex 3, 1-8.13-15; Ps 102; 2nd I Cor 10, 1-6. 10-12; Gos: Lk 13, 1-9)

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

On this third Sunday of Lent, the church provides us another moment of grace to straighten us on our journey. Today, we celebrate the Lord who frees us from our slavery to sin, if only we listen to His warning to repent. Hence, our central theme today is repentance.

At times, we are tempted to view repentance as something unimportant. On the contrary, it is an important step to salvation. It is a way through which God’s grace is mediated to us. Repentance is, feeling sorry for the sin we committed, and a firm resolve not to deliberately commit it again. Sincere repentance provokes God’s compassion, mercy and love.

In our second reading, Paul kindly reminded us of the consequences of deliberately going contrary to God’s will. He carefully traced the death of the Israelites to their inability to please God. That is to say, because they sinned against God. Hence, Paul concluded by warning us that: “All these happened as a warning, and it was written down to be a lesson for us who are living at the end of the age.” In his letter to the Romans he puts it directly: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life” (Rom 6, 23.)

In today’s gospel, Jesus was very direct in his words when he said: “Unless you repent you will perish.” One might say that this is too harsh to come from Christ who is merciful and compassionate. The truth is that when Jesus speaks this way, it does not diminish his compassion and mercy. Rather, he does so because he actually cares for us and sees what we cannot see. He simply warns us of the negative consequences of living a sinful life and wants us to repent and live a better life.

This Sunday, the good news is that we are given the opportunity to learn from the failures of our ancestors and the consequences of their actions. We are given another opportunity to call upon the Lord who is “merciful, compassionate and love.” Jesus wants us to take a bold and positive step towards amending our way of life. This is a call to repentance for the times we neglected and failed both God and our neighbours; for the times we chose evil over good; and for those moments we despaired and displayed remarkable lack of faith in God.

The patient, compassionate and loving Father is ready welcome us back. Hence, he says to us this season: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then…I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”(2 Ch 7, 14). Repentance attracts mercy, compassion, forgiveness and salvation. It brings about healing and restoration of hope for a better future. So, if we sincerely repent of our sins, God will not only forgive us, but He will heal us.

Finally, compassion (cum passio) means to suffer with, and also to love with. Therefore, God’s compassion and mercy for us is always associated with his love. Just as God knew how miserable the Israelites were in Egypt, He knows how miserable we are under the slavery of sin. He is aware of our enslavement by both habitual sins of omission and commission. He also knows the efforts we are making to live good lives and how we often fail. So this Lent, Jesus is ready to suffer with us so that we might be free from the slavery of sin. Through our repentance, His compassion, mercy, and love we would be healed and restored to life this season and beyond.

Peace be with you!               

Maranatha!

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