Third Sunday of Lent: It’s all about FORGIVENESS!

Published February 28, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Third Sunday of Lent

forgiveness

Today’s Gospel tells us Jesus’ parable of the fig tree. Jesus’ parables were short stories or one-liners that were used to illustrate a point about the Kingdom of God that was  not evident through a more direct discussion. 

In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus explains to his followers that the fig tree that grows no fruit should not be discarded. The tree should get a “second chance.” It has not sprouted fruit yet, but it will grow fruit in the future. This is how Jesus views us, too. We get second, third, and thousandth chances from Jesus to turn around and produce good fruit. Jesus is infinitely patient with us, and only wants to call us back home into his arms. Our “tree” may not grow fruit for years, but Jesus still insists that we should not be cut down.

Perhaps a better tree to compare to ourselves is the bamboo tree. Bamboo trees take up to five years before they even sprout from the ground. Jesus’ patient love for us is the same patient love that one must invest into the bamboo tree. You will not see the results right away, but you nurture it nevertheless. You believe in it, and you do not give up. Someday that tree will be strong and beautiful. 

In the same way that Jesus does not give up on us “trees,” so we too must not give up on others. The most powerful thing about Jesus’ forgiveness is that it happens again and again. Not only does he show his love for us, but he shows us how to love. This Lent, challenge yourself to love more authentically. Forgive others. Forgive your ex, forgive the man who cut you in line, forgive the racist, forgive your estranged family member. Forgive again and again. 

Holding onto grudges and the past only causes more pain for us in the present. Our trees begin to shrivel up and die when we do not forgive. Let us all try to remember that Jesus has the option to cut down our trees, but he does not. Following his example, we should help other trees bloom, and never cut them down. It is our job to make sure that the other trees grow.

Opening Prayer

O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so often easy to see the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.

(taken from http://dailyprayer.us/prayers/forgiveness.php)

Daily Readings

Reading 1 EX 3:1-8A, 13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,
the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your fathers,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
But the LORD said,
“I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt
and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,
so I know well what they are suffering.
Therefore I have come down to rescue them
from the hands of the Egyptians
and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,
a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;
thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

_______
Responsorial Psalm PS 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_______________
Reading 2 1 COR 10:1-6, 10-12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
that our ancestors were all under the cloud
and all passed through the sea,
and all of them were baptized into Moses
in the cloud and in the sea.
All ate the same spiritual food,
and all drank the same spiritual drink,
for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,
and the rock was the Christ.
Yet God was not pleased with most of them,
for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us,
so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.
Do not grumble as some of them did,
and suffered death by the destroyer.
These things happened to them as an example,
and they have been written down as a warning to us,
upon whom the end of the ages has come.
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure
should take care not to fall.

_________
Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

_________
Gospel LK 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’”

(taken from USCCB.org)

__________

Multimedia

For a powerful message about how we can forgive others as Christ forgives us, watch this clip.

Additional Activities

Here is an article on how to teach little ones (and adults too!) about the nature of forgiveness

For a romantic perspective (although it applies to any relationship) on forgiveness during Lent, please read this article.

Finally, here is a three-minute mini-retreat on God’s radical forgiveness.

Closing Prayer

Why Lord?

Beautiful Lord,

Why do You forgive us?  We shout praises to You when we sing worship.  With the same tongue we curse other people that are made in Your image.Why do You forgive us?  We say we love You and still keep sinning.  Why do You forgive us?  We spend time in prayer thanking You for your blessings and then we refuse to bless others.  Why do You forgive us?  We read our Bibles when we make time for it, but we also read other nonsense that is offensive to You.  Why do You forgive us?  We praise Jesus for His death on the cross for the atonement of our sins and then we nail Him to it again every time we trespass against You.  Why do You forgive us every single time?  I am so thankful for your endless supply of forgiveness!  I can’t fathom how You do it, for I am only one human being.  You do this for every single person!  The compassion and grace and mercy that flow from You is absolutely amazing and I love You for it!  Thank you so much for forgiving me every time I sin!  You are worthy to be praised!  Amen.

(taken from http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-prayers-for-forgiveness-and-repentance-2/#ixzz41TpdujME.)

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