“Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
Scholars tell us that a certain Rabbi Eliezer whose teachings were part of the local tradition in Jesus’ time, urged people to repent the day before they died. His disciples countered by saying that as a person could die any day, therefore all of life should be one of repentance!
This Third Sunday of Lent call us to consider “repentance”. We have had the presentation of Jesus away in the desert for forty days. Then, with companions on the mountain top. In a sense, today asks us, “What are you going to do having pondered these events?”
We don’t need to necessarily recall the bloodletting of Pilate, let alone the sudden fall of the tower of Siloam to be reminded of sudden and unprepared death. The murderous bombing of people in Ukraine, let alone the recent deaths of Rod Marsh, Shane Warne and Kimberley Kitching, are current examples of sudden death.
The massive sudden loss of lives on the roads is perhaps blunted by our belief that it is not going to happen to me! But it does.
We were told on Ash Wednesday, “Repent and believe the Good News.” The fig tree was expected to bear fruit; so too, those who believe in the Good News.
What are we to repent of then?
Listing things is always dangerous. We are to examine ourselves, measured against the call of the Gospel. So, into one’s own inner space and let the Spirit give you that haircut.
To help with that examination, you may have time to compare Luke and his fig tree with Mark 11:12-14, or Matthew 21:18-19. For the more adventurous, look up Micah 4:4 and Joel 2: 22. Check what is in common, but remember, time is against us.
“It may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down”.