Dear Followers of Jesus,
Luke 13:1-9 invites us to examine how God is changing our lives and giving us another chance. The tree in this gospel offers us an image of hope for our own lives as well as the Church.
In this Lenten season, I am so aware that I need another opportunity to grow deeper into the mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising in me. I need to be pruned. I need God to dig up the soil around my heart and offer me another opportunity to grow from his love, in his love and because of his love.
I am sure we all need this awareness as well. I believe with my entire heart that each of us needs another chance to find God’s love, the source and soil on which our lives grow and change in the world. Even when we resist life and hold grudges and remain active in our addictions and live behind our rough exteriors to protect ourselves from the world, I am confident that not many of us feel really good about our real selves. Sometimes, we just do not know how to access God, how to live differently in Him or even how to seek him in prayer.
Sometimes we live self-protective lives. We hide our secrets. We cannot admit our wrongs. We do not say that we need God because we do not want to look weak. We hide our tears and our emotions because the world will think less of us. We do not crack open our hearts lest others think we are not in complete control of our lives. We hide behind anger, fear and loneliness. We create a shell that will not be cracked by any thing or any one.
This is the image of the tree that has withered. It needs a second chance or maybe a third or fourth chance. It needs help to bloom, to give life and to recognize its place in the world. We are no different. We need to cultivate within our own lives a new desire for the Paschal Mystery, that is Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. In this Lent, we sit with all the ways in which our lives have withered. We examine our need for mercy and forgiveness. We reflect on our relationships and the ways in which we have pushed people away. We examine how we need God to support our lives in the Church and how the Church needs another chance to find its way into the Light.
Life sometimes does not bear the fruit we think it should. So often we grow angry and resentful about how life really is and that we did not get our way. Lent is also an opportunity for us to find the truth of who we are in God. We grow more beautifully, more faithfully, more lovingly, when we finally rest our hearts in the soil of God’s forgiveness and mercy. Then we shall grow with hope, bloom with justice and become a tree that reaches toward heavenly light.