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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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Your IP: 3.80.6.254
2019-11-13 16:05

สถานะการเยี่ยมชม

มี 134 ผู้มาเยือน และ ไม่มีสมาชิกออนไลน์ ออนไลน์

3rd Sunday of Lent
Exodus 3:1–8, 13–15; 1 Corinthians 10:1–6, 10–12; Luke 13:1–9*

Second chance
A merciful God has given us all a second chance. Let us respond with gratitude and renewed dedication.

The Dallas Morning News carried a photo of some prisoners on a work-release program. They were restoring a condemned house on the city’s west side. Several days later
one of the prisoners wrote the editor, saying:

“Thank you for the coverage. . . . The last time my name and photograph were printed in a newspaper took place the day I was sentenced. . . . So it was a real joy to see my picture in your paper doing something good. . . .

“When I entered prison 18 months ago, I was a lot like the house we just remodeled. . . . But God took charge of my life
and has made me a new creation in Christ.’’

We could hardly find a better illustration of the point Jesus is making in today’s gospel.

The first half of the gospel tells about two groups of people who are killed by recent tragedies in Jerusalem. Jesus ends his reference to these tragedies by saying to his hearers, “And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did.”

The second half of the gospel tells about a fig tree that was planted inside a vineyard. A vineyard was an ideal place for fig trees to grow. If a fig tree couldn’t grow there, it couldn’t grow anywhere.
A fig tree takes three years to mature. If it doesn’t bear fruit in that time, it probably won’t bear it at all.

This explains why the owner of the vineyard instructed his gardener to cut the tree down.

And so it is remarkable that instead of cutting the tree down,
the gardener begs the owner to give it a second chance. “Leave it alone, sir, just one more year; I will dig around it
and put in some fertilizer.” he says.

Jesus intended his parables for two groups of people. First, Jesus meant them for the instruction of the people of his time.
Second, he meant them for the instruction of people for all times.

The group of people for whom Jesus told today’s parable
is, of course, the people of Israel. Jesus tells them that God gave them a choice place in his plan and took special care of them. But they didn’t bear fruit.

Jesus tells them further that in spite of this failure, God will be patient with them a little longer. He will give them a second chance, like the fig tree.

The wider group of people for whom Jesus told this parable
includes all of us here today.

Jesus’ parable also applies to us. We are like Israel. God has given us a choice place in his plan, and he has taken special care of us. God expects us to bear fruit. If we don’t, then, like Israel, God will give us a genuine opportunity to repent. If we don’t repent, then, like Israel, we will perish.
* RCIA directives call for the Year A readings for the Scrutinies
on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. The Ordo also
offers this option. Hence the use of Year A readings here.
This brings us back to our opening story. Both the prisoner and the house illustrate the point of Jesus’ parable. Both were given a second chance.

The house was condemned by the city. It was scheduled to be torn down.  But  someone  persuaded the officials to give it a second chance.

“Let the prisoners work on it,’’ they said. “If they can make it a useful property again, then we won’t tear it down.’’

The prisoner himself was also condemned. He was considered unfit for society. He was put behind bars.

Although society gave up on him, Jesus didn’t. Jesus gave
him a second chance. Like the gardener in today’s gospel, Jesus watered and cared for his spirit. The man responded and became a new creation.

All of us can relate to that story. At one point in our
lives, many of us here were like the fig tree, the house, and
the prisoner.

We too were in danger of being rejected as useless. But in his mercy, God took pity on us. Like the house, the prisoner, and the fig tree, we were given another chance.

Today’s gospel, therefore, calls forth from us deep gratitude to God for the second chance he has given us. It also calls forth a deep determination to make the most of our second chance.


And so we say to Jesus, “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for our second chance. Help us make the most of it. Help us carry
out your plan for us. Help us do this especially during these remaining weeks of Lent.’’

Let’s close with a poem. It’s about an old violin which, like us, was given a second chance.

It’s yet another image of your story and my story and God’s love for us. I hope the poem will touch your hearts and move you to celebrate today’s Eucharist with more than ordinary gratitude and love.

“It was  battered  and  scarred  and the auctioneer Thought it scarcely worth his while To waste much time on the old violin.
But he held it up with a smile. ‘What am I bid, good folks?’ he cried. ‘Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar, then two, only two?
Two dollars and who’ll make it three?

“ ‘Three dollars once and three dollars twice, And going for three, but no!’ From the room far back a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow. And wiping the dust from the old violin And tightening the loosened strings He played a melody pure and sweet, Sweet as an angel sings.

“The music ceased and the auctioneer In a voice that was quiet and low Said, ‘What am I bid for the old violin?’
And he held it up with the bow. ‘A thousand dollars and who’ll make it two? Two thousand and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice And going and gone!’ said he.


“The people cheered but some of them cried, ‘We don’t quite understand. What changed its worth?’ Quick came the reply:
‘The touch of the master’s hand.’ And many a man with life out of tune And battered and scarred with sin Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, Much like the old violin.

“A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, A game and he travels on.
He’s going once, he’s going twice, He’s going and almost gone.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd Never can quite understand The worth of the soul and the change that’s wrought By the touch of the Master’s hand.’’ Author unknown
 
Series II
3rd Sunday of Lent*
Exodus 3:1–8, 13–15; 1 Corinthians 10:1–6, 10–12; Luke 13:1–9

No exit
Because of Jesus, there is no dead end in life; there is always a second chance.

James Colaianni tells this story. A rather famous painting
shows a young man playing chess with the devil. They are playing for possession of the young man’s soul.

The painting portrays the devil as having just made a brilliant move.

Chess players who study the arrangement of the chess pieces in the painting feel immediate sympathy for the young man.
For he has been put in a hopeless situation. He has been led down a blind alley with no exit.

Paul Murphy, a former world-class chess player, became intrigued by the painting. One day, while studying the arrangement of the chess pieces, he saw something that no
one else did.

Excitedly, he cried out to the young man in the painting,
“Don’t give up! You still have an excellent move left. There’s still hope!’’

That story fits in beautifully  with the point that Jesus makes in the parable of the fig tree in today’s gospel.
Like the young man in the painting, the fig tree seems hopelessly lost. It is about to be cut down. Then, suddenly,
a ray of hope breaks through.

Like the young man in the painting, the fig tree is not doomed after all. It gets a last-minute reprieve. It gets a last-minute “second chance.’’

The story of the young man in the painting and Jesus’ parable of the fig tree in the gospel contain an important message for us.

Because of Jesus Christ, we are never doomed, no matter how bad things seem. Because of Jesus Christ, there is still hope for us, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Because of Jesus Christ, there is always one more move left to make, no matter how late in the game it is.

A true story will help illustrate this point more concretely.

Ayoung woman named Teresa decided t o leave the Catholic Church. When asked why she was leaving,
she said, “The reasons are too numerous to mention.’’

Anyway, after having been unchurched for four years,
she was still terribly unhappy.

Then one day a young man, whom she knew well, was killed in a car accident. She decided to go to his funeral, which was in the church she used to attend. Describing the impact the funeral had on her, she said:
“I was unexpectedly overwhelmed by the white-draped casket
as it was brought into the church. The explanation by the priest, that this white covering symbolized this man’s Baptism into Jesus Christ, seemed to awaken me from a long,  dreamless sleep.

“I questioned, for the first time in a long time, my decision to leave all this behind. I  was beginning to realize how much God loves us and how important it might be for me to live for [God] within this faith community.’’
* RCIA directives call for the Year A readings for the Scrutinies
on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. The Ordo also
offers this option. See Sunday Homilies, Series II, Year A.


To make a long story short, the grace of God touched Teresa at the funeral. And like the fig tree in Jesus’ parable and like the young man in the painting, she was given a second chance.
 
She concluded, saying:

“That was over a year ago. In that time God has renewed me
and healed my life in so many ways. The Spirit of Truth has shown me the wholeness of the Catholic Church and the path to my spiritual wholeness through it. I found all this the second time around.’’
Teresa Wright Hayden, “The Open Door,’’
The Catholic Digest (July 1988)

This brings us to the most important point of all. How does all of this apply to our lives in a practical way?

All of us, to some extent, are like the young man in the painting, like the fig tree in Jesus’ parable, and like the woman in the story.
All of us, at one time or another, have arrived at a point in life when it seemed that we were in a no-win situation. Perhaps some of us are at such a point right now in our lives.
 
Perhaps some situation threatens to engulf us and overwhelm us.

Perhaps some relationship threatens to destroy everything we believe in.

Perhaps some problem has led us down a blind alley that seems to be a dead end.

It is right here that today’s gospel has an important message for us.

Because of Jesus Christ, we are never doomed, no matter how bad things seem.

Because of Jesus Christ, we always have one more move left.

Because of Jesus Christ, there is still hope for us, no matter what the situation.

This is the lesson that is contained in today’s Scripture.
This is the good news that we celebrate in today’s liturgy.
This is the message that God wants us to carry back into our world.
 
Series III
3rd Sunday of Lent
Exodus 3:1–8a; 1 Corinthians 10:1–6, 10–12; Luke 13:1–9

Call to repentance
Let us turn back to the God  who has blessed us so greatly.

Jesus said to the people,] “I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die.” Luke 13:5

In March 1863, our nation was in the midst of a dreadful civil war. Its very future hung in the balance.

With a troubled heart, and after a lot of reflection and prayer,
President Lincoln picked up his pen and wrote the following words:

We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace. . . .

We have vainly imagined . . . that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient . . . too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves . . . to confess our national sins, and to pray for . . . forgiveness. . . .
I do, by this my proclamation, designate . . . Thursday,
the 30th day of April, 1963 [for this purpose]. . . .

I hereby request all the People to abstain on that day from their . . . secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places
 of worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy
to the Lord. . . .

All this being done . . . let us hope . . . that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with . . .
 [the] restoration of our . . .divided and suffering country
to its former happy condition of unity and peace. . . .

Done in the city of Washington this thirtieth day of March,
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.

With very few changes, those incredible words of Lincoln
are descriptive of the Israelites in the time of Moses.

Today’s first Scripture reading recalls how God blessed the Israelites by raising up Moses to lead them out of Egypt to freedom.

Then, under the leadership of Moses, God chose them from
all the nations on the earth to be his special people.

He blessed them with bread from heaven, and increased their numbers beyond counting.


The second Scripture reading recalls that in spite of everything God did for the Israelites, they turned to other Gods.
 
They forgot who it was who blessed them so lavishly. And so God let them fall upon hard times.

Commenting on this, Saint Paul says:

Now all of this is an example for us, to warn us not to desire
evil things as they did.

If you think you are standing firm you had better be careful
that you do not fall. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 12

That brings us to the Gospel reading. There Saint Luke makes it clear that in spite of God’s special blessings, and  in spite of God’s warnings, and in spite of Jesus’ preaching and miracles, God’s chosen people did not bear the fruit God  expected of them.

For three years  Jesus pleaded with them to repent. But his pleas fell, for the most part, on deaf ears.

It is against this background that Jesus told the crowds
the parable of the fig tree, offering them one last chance to repent.

Those who heed this second chance will be saved; those who do not will perish.
That brings us to our own time. We are like the people of
Jesus’ time, listening to his parable of the fig tree and its last-chance warning to repent.

We are like the people of Lincoln’s time, reading his proclamation.

We are like the people of Saint Paul’s time, being reminded by Paul:

All these things happened . . . as examples for others, and they were written down as a warning to us.

If you think you are standing firm you had better be careful
that you do not fall. 1 Corinthians 10:11–12

And so each one of us must decide whether we will heed the warnings or ignore them and perish.

Let us close by recalling this excerpt from Lincoln’s words
to the people of his time and through them to the people of our time.

We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace. . . .

We have vainly imagined . . . that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient . . . too proud to pray to the God who made us!

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves . . .to confess our national sins, and to pray for . . . forgiveness.

It is this same message that the Church also speaks to us individually and collectively at this midpoint of our Lenten observance.