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Gospel for Sunday, March 20 Luke 13: 1-9

III Sunday of Lent C

1At the same time some came forward to tell him about those Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mixed with that of their sacrifices. 2Taking the floor, Jesus replied: “Do you believe that those Galileans were more sinners than all the Galileans, for having suffered such a fate? 3No, I tell you, but if you do not convert, you will all perish in the same way. 4Or do you think that those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed, were more guilty than all the inhabitants of Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you, but if you do not convert, you will all perish in the same way.” 6He also said this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and came looking for fruit on it, but found none. 7Then he said to the vinedresser: Behold, for three years I have been looking for fruit on this fig tree, but I have not found any. Cut it. Why does he have to exploit the land? 8But he replied: Master, leave it again this year until I dig around it and put fertilizer on it 9and we will see if it bears fruit in the future; if not, you will cut it off.”

Luke 13: 1-9

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

WHY THE PAIN?

The Jewish ethical-juridical mentality and then the Roman world have often presented the incarnation of the Son as a necessary moment so that he could sacrifice himself, dying on the cross, and thus give, being the infinite Son, adequate satisfaction for the infinite offense caused by man to God with sin. But this idea of an angry and vengeful Father who demands total satisfaction for the offense, and who is appeased only with the immolation of the Son, cannot fail to pose a problem for us.

The death of Christ was not “the necessity of the will of a God eager for reparation for his offended majesty… The misunderstanding of this theology, which indiscriminately projects pain and the cross into the sense of God himself, consists in accepting the Father like the murderer of Jesus. Divine wrath is not satisfied with vengeance on the children, brothers of Jesus: it extends to the only begotten Son. Thus parricide takes on a sacral and theological dimension. We must refuse any Christian legitimacy to such a macabre vision, because it destroys all the novelty of the Gospel… Such a representation… has very little to do with the God-Father of Christ… God takes on the features of a cruel and bloody judge, ready to demand down to the last cent the debts that refer to justice… But is this the God we have learned to love and turn to, based on the experience of Christ? Is he still the God of the Prodigal Son, who he knows how to forgive? The God of the lost sheep, who leaves the ninety-nine in the fold and goes to look for the only one lost in the meadows?” (L. Boff).

The model of understanding developed instead according to the Greek mentality seems more in keeping with the revelation of Jesus about the Father and with the New Testament texts which emphasize the role of Christ already in creation. This conception starts from this reflection: God created man out of love: but being, according to Greek metaphysics, infinite, unlimited, eternal, to create someone who could be his partner in love and who was therefore other than himself he had to create finite, limited, mortal. Pain, illness, death are therefore not a “punishment”, but are part of the biological order, of our being creatures and therefore “non-God”, and therefore devoid of his perfection.

In fact, well before the appearance of man, throughout the history of the earth and evolution, millions of living individuals have experienced death, millions of species have become extinct, including the famous dinosaurs. This reflection, which I sometimes call… “Jurassic Theology”, or “dinosaur theology”, leads us to affirm that man’s sin could not have been the cause of physical death: aging, suffering, death they are an integral part of biological nature, they are characteristics of the way of being of creatures (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 302.310).

But God is deeply moved by the condition of the beloved, and at the very moment in which he creates him finite, limited, mortal, he thinks of a way for him to make him participate in his infinite, unlimited, immortal life: for this reason God plans the incarnation of the Son, through which He himself will become finite, will subsume the limit of man and creation until death and, through the mystery of his resurrection, will bring human finitude into eternity and the immensity of his divine life, making us his children and heirs (Rom 8:17). As St. Athanasius says, “God became man so that man could become God” (De incarnazione Verbi, n. 54).

The incarnation of the Son is therefore not an “accident” due to man’s sin, but is a creational gesture, the fulfillment of God’s creative activity, the realization of his plan of love for man, which becomes at at the same time in Christ capable of a personal relationship with God and sharing in his own life and beatitude (Jn 1,1-3; Col 1,16-17).

BEARING FRUIT

For salvation, Jesus does not only require formal adherence to him. Following the Master implies concrete works of justice and love. As John will exhort: “Children, let us not love with words or with the tongue, but with deeds and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).

Jesus’ message in this sense is very clear. An external, merely cultic religiosity is not enough (Lk 13,22-30). It is not even enough to perform miracles or prophesy in the name of Christ: we must do to others what we would like them to do to us: “Whatever you want men to do to you, you also do to them: this is in fact the Law and the Prophets ” (Mt 7,12-23).

And bearing good fruit and carrying out justice mean concrete and active attention towards those in need. James will say in this regard: “Certainly, if you fulfill the most important of the commandments according to Scripture: «You shall love your neighbor as yourself», you are doing well; but if you distinguish between persons, you commit a sin and are accused by the law as transgressors… Judgment will be without mercy against those who have not shown mercy; mercy, on the other hand, always prevails in judgment. What does it profit, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Perhaps that faith can save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and without daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” but do not give them the necessary things for the body, what good is it? So too is faith: if it does not have works, it is dead in itself” (Jas 2:8-26).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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