Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C

True Repentance brings God’s Mercy

Readings: 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 with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico &  Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. 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 is always ready to free us from slavery, if we truly repent of our sins. Hence, our central theme today is repentance.

Repentance is an important step to salvation. It is a way through which God’s grace is mediated to us. Repentance is, feeling sincerely sorry for the sin we have committed. It is also a firm resolve not to deliberately commit them it again. Sincere repentance brings God’s compassion and mercy.

In our second reading, Paul kindly reminded us of the consequences of deliberately going contrary to God’s will. He traced the death of the Israelites in the desert to their sin against God. Hence, in his letter to the Romans, he says: “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23). Paul reminds 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 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 strong to come from Christ, the merciful and compassionate Lord. The truth is that, this does not diminish his love for us.

Rather, this way of speaking is actually a sign that Christ cares for us. He sees what we cannot see. So, he simply warns us of the consequences of 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 also given the opportunity to call upon the Lord who is “merciful, compassionate and love.” Jesus wants us to make a positive decision by changing our way and by living a better life.

So, today’s good news is a call to repentance. Repentance, for the times we have neglected and failed both God and our neighbors. For the times we chose evil over good. And for those moments we have despaired and displayed remarkable lack of faith in God.

The patient, compassionate and loving Father is ready to receive us. Hence, he says to us this season: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves… and turn from their wicked ways, I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Ch 7:14).

Repentance attracts God’s mercy, compassion, forgiveness and salvation. It brings healing and restoration of hope for a better future. So, if we sincerely repent of our sins, God will not only forgive us, he will also heal us.

Compassion means, to suffer with (cum passio). Therefore, God’s compassion and mercy is always associated with his love for us. 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 captivity by the sins of omission and commission. He knows the efforts we are making every day to free ourselves. He also knows how often we fail.

Finally, the good news this Lent is that, Jesus is ready to suffer with us so that we might be free from the slavery of sin. Through our repentance, and through his compassion and mercy, we shall be healed and restored to life this season.

Peace be with you!               

Maranatha!

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