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Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Rom. 8:1-11 & Lk. 13:1-9

Saint Paul talks about the spiritual and unspiritual in today's first reading. We are definitely meant to be numbered among the spiritual, called to be dead to sin and alive to Christ (Rom.6:11). We are commissioned to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19). Jesus calls us the salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13) and the light of the world (5:14). We are to be perfect (Mt. 5:48). We are to love God with every fibre of our being and to love our neighbour, even our enemies as we love ourselves (Lk. 6:27; 10:27)

Can the call possibly be more daunting? Praise God that there is hope for “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1) – no judgement on us, no sentence against us, no damnation awaiting us. For those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, everything that we deserve under the law was set aside by Jesus’ death and resurrection (Rom. 8:3-4).

Through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts and minds, we can do more than learn how to please God. We will receive divine power to fulfil our calling. This is what Paul meant when he said that the Holy Spirit will bring life both to our spirits and to our bodies (Rom. 8:10-11). Paul knew that as we set our minds on the things of the Lord – through prayer and the reading of Scripture, and being always alert to the voice of the Spirit – we will begin to experience God moving us in new ways, and we will find ourselves living with a greater sense of hope, enthusiasm and expectation.

When we live “in the Spirit” in this way, we are in a marvellous position! We experience the great truth that it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Yes, we will struggle. We will even fail sometimes, but we will also know that we are not doomed. We can all have hope, because the power of the Spirit at work in us is without limits. Together with all the saints, we can know the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ’s love. Indeed! We can be filled with the very fullness of God (Eph 3:14).

Today’s Gospel tells us that each one of us is so very special to God. We are His children and He does not want to lose one of us. If any of us go to Hell it must break His heart. Jesus is warning us to make sure that we repent and do not go to Hell.

In the reading Jesus is told what Pilate did to some Galileans. He ordered his troops to slaughter them as they were offering their sacrifices in the temple. We do not know what these Galileans did to incite Pilate's wrath, nor why he chose to attack them in the holiest of places for the Jews, in their temple at Jerusalem. For the Jews, this was political barbarity and sacrilege at its worst!

This gave Jesus an opportunity to warn them and us about the importance to repent. Obviously they thought because this calamity had befallen them they were sinners worse than other Galileans. Jesus says this is not so. The real calamity is when sinners fail to repent before a sudden disaster or a sudden death takes place. There is nothing worse than not being prepared to meet the Judge of Heaven and Earth. Jesus gives a clear warning - take responsibility for your actions and moral choices and put sin to death today before it can destroy your heart, mind, soul, and body as well. Unrepentant sin is like a cancer which corrupts us from within. If it is not eliminated through repentance - asking God for forgiveness and for His healing grace - it leads to a spiritual death which is far worse than physical destruction.

Jesus' parable of the barren fig tree illustrated His warning about the consequences of allowing sin and corruption to take root in our hearts and minds. This parable depicts the patience of God but it also contains a warning that we should not take advantage of His patience and mercy. God's judgment will come, sooner or later.

God, in His mercy, gives us time to set matters right with Him, but that time is now. We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden and unexpected death leaves us no time to settle our accounts for when we must stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepentant sin will result in bad fruit and eventual destruction. The Lord in His mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. So the big question now is … are we ready if the Lord calls?

Let us make sure that we are always ready to repent when we have sinned. We do not want to send ourselves to Hell and break our Father’s heart. We also want to do all we can to help lead others to God.

Heavenly Father, do not consider what we truly deserve, but forgive us our sins and lead us all to Heaven, there to be happy with you forever.

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