March 20, Sunday 3rd Week of Lent
Readings: Exodus 3: 1-8a, 13-15, 1Corinthians 10: 1-6, 10-12 & Luke 13:1-9
The first invitation from John the Baptist and Jesus Christ is a call for repentance. On Ash Wednesday, the first reading gave us the same invitation: "Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning." Joel 2:12. Jesus affirms the message by giving a warning, "Unless you repent, you will all perish" (Matthew 13:5).
Jesus never condemns a sinner, only sin. God waits patiently for our return, "Sir, let it alone for one more year until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good, but if not, you can cut it down. " (Matthew 13:8-9).
Repentance brings God closer and closer. God said to Moses, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground " (Exodus 3:5). Moses removed the sandals and approached God, and God revealed Himself to Moses.
Repentance causes deep joy. It creates excellent pleasure in heaven. Luke 15:7 says, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance." The repentant person also feels joy, and the community celebrates it. As a result, repentance brings pleasure to God, the community, and the individual.
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the finest examples in the Gospel. Repentance is a painful process and a personal decision. The younger son ponders over his luxury and status away from his father's house and in the sty. He gets up, gets back on his feet, returns to his father, asks for forgiveness, and reconciles with him. In return, the father accepts him as his son, honors him, and celebrates his return. Joy fills their hearts.
As Moses removed the sandals in the purification process, we are called to eradicate the deadliest things, thoughts, behaviors, and characters. Over time, we have developed such fatal evils as pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, which hinder our spiritual journey. When we let go of these things and approach God closer and closer day by day, we find the ultimate goal of our life, which is union with God.
One cannot expect a transformation to happen overnight. It is a lifetime journey. Repentance is the first step towards holiness. After that, we need to be constantly holy. A person who regularly and consistently lives in a state of purity is called a saint. Therefore, a call for repentance is also a call for holiness.
Let us accept God's invitation to get closer to Him every day. Even though the process is complex and painful, the result is delightful. May God strengthen all of us in the process of repentance and coming to God.
What is one thing that God is calling you to repent and come close to Him? Can you do it now?
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.