October 26, 2019 – Saturday 29th Week in Ordinary Time
A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (8:1-11)
Brothers and sisters:
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has freed you from the law of sin and death.
For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do,
this God has done:
by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh
are concerned with the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the spirit
with the things of the spirit.
The concern of the flesh is death,
but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.
For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God;
it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it;
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (13:1-9)
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
He said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”
And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'”
St Paul in his letter to the Romans talks about the contradiction between the tendencies of the flesh and gifts of the spirit dwelling within us.
This means that in each of us, we have this selfish tendencies to satisfy our human cravings. These desires are only concerned about the self. In the words of St Paul, these desires of the flesh tends towards death. It is towards death because these tendencies of ours do not give life and do not hold on hope. Thus, our desires of the flesh would always tend to be corrupt and selfish, abusive and uncontended.
This is evident when we have developed vices and bad habits. Like for example, when we hunger for praise and recognition from others we would tend to seek affirmation from people no matter what. As a result, we become aggressive and unhealthily competitive and threatened when someone is better than us. When we also become addicted in any substance, may it be in alcohol or illegal drugs, or addicted to any habits like that of eating, shopping, or into gadgets, or gambling or sex, we tend to become selfish because we crave to satisfy our deep emptiness. And because it cannot be satisfied then we seek for more. And when we seek for more, we do anything just to do it no matter what. Hence, when the cycle of abuse and addiction begins we also walk towards hopelessness and death.
However, St Paul also reminds us that each of us too has been gifted by the Spirit of God, dwelling within us. The spirit can only work when we allow also the Lord to work in us. When we begin to recognize the spirit, then, the spirit will surely help us rise again and walk towards hope and towards life that is free and at peace.
Recognizing the spirit dwelling in each of us is a call to a personal encounter with God. In our encounter with God, it invites us to remove or to let go of those unnecessary things, attitudes, vices, behaviors, beliefs and lifestyle that offend God and others and prevent us from truly encountering and knowing the Lord intimately.
Thus, our encounter with God calls also us to go beyond ourselves even beyond our comforts, beyond our fears and beyond our sins and weaknesses. God calls us to step forward and to come out our own hiding places of insecurities, of anger and hate, of pretensions and compulsive behaviors.
This is basically the invitation of Jesus from the Gospel today. Jesus gave us the parable of the fig tree. In this parable, Jesus tells us that the Father is a
God of many chances.
God gives us many chances to change our ways and to come nearer to him so that we may find fullness of life with God. This is described to us as Jesus expressed in the parable how the owner would visit the tree. And also, in the person of the gardener, Jesus tells us that indeed,
God gives us another chance when we fail and commit mistakes.
The gardener expressed hope to the owner as he asked him to give the fig tree another year. The gardener promised to cultivate it so that it may bear fruit. The gardener really saw hope in that tree. That gardener is also the Spirit dwelling within us, God himself who never loses hope for us.
Indeed, God always sees hope in each of us. Even though that others may treat us as beyond hope and beyond repair because of our failures and big mistakes in life, but then, God sees hope beyond our hopelessness. That is why, God’s spirit would always entice us to recognize him and encounter him.
And God makes the move through the people around us, through our friends and loved ones and even strangers who will remind and teach us that God is within us, waiting to be recognized, and waiting to be welcomed. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR