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Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Eph. 4:7-16 & Lk. 13:1-9

Saint Paul talks about the different offices in the church in the First Reading today. Each is like a different part of the body, indispensable and contributing to the health of the whole. Each office is there for the building up of the Body of Christ “until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ Himself.”

Paul was a staunch defender of true doctrine. He was fully prepared to live with certain disagreements over the meaning of the Gospel. He recognised that Peter had one way of preaching the Gospel and he had another. But there were certain limits as to what could be accepted as different ways of saying the same thing. Paul had no sympathy for our kind of modern relativism that claims one set of beliefs is just as good as any other set of beliefs. He believed that there is a definite doctrinal content that must be communicated from one generation to another.

Believing that Christianity would eventually disappear if that doctrinal content were watered down in any way, Paul maintained that the leaders of the Church have a responsibility to preserve the purity of its teachings. But he also knew that there was a proper and an improper way to protect the truth. The only proper way for the Church to protect itself against heresy from within and attacks from without was to profess the truth in love. What a blot on our history that the Church has sometimes used methods of banishment and even torture to protect the Church from error. But there are times when people who call themselves Catholics or Christians, in our own lifetimes, have used methods to defend the truth which undermine the very truth being advocated.

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 even 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 of our sins with the definite intention of living better lives if we are serious about not wanting to go to Hell.

In the reading Jesus is told that Pilate ordered his troops to slaughter Galileans 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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