Gospel Reflections by Father Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.

C - 3rd Sunday of Lent

March 14, 2004
Ex 3:1-8, 13-15 • 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12 • Lk 13:1-9

Do You Deserve What You Get?

The Emperor Napoleon had a rule in his army that anyone who went absent without leave, on being captured would be shot the next morning at breakfast time. There was a boy of seventeen who had seen many of his companions die. Scared, he ran away, but he was caught and was sentenced to be executed next morning at breakfast time. It so happened that this boy was the son of Napoleon’s cook. The mother went to plead for mercy. Eventually, Napoleon order her out of his sight saying, “Woman, your son does not deserve mercy.” To this she replied, “Yes, of course, you are right. He does not deserve mercy. If he deserved it, it would no longer be mercy.” These words made Napoleon think again.

      Mercy is not mercy if it is deserved. A gift is not a gift if it is deserved. Gifts and mercy are what we get from God. Often the gifts are extremely well disguised – sometimes so well disguised that it takes a lifetime to recognize them as gifts! What comes to us from God, good or bad, is totally undeserved. But even if it is unsolicited and undeserved it calls for a response from us. These are the paradoxes of God’s ways of working with us, and Jesus is trying to grapple with them in today’s Gospel Story.

      “At that time some were present who told them about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices… and about the eighteen who were killed by a falling tower in Siloam. “He made it quite clear that what had happened in these two current events were not punishments for the sins of the participants. Yet, he challenged his listeners to repent or such things may happen to them! While there is no cause and effect between what happens to us and our good or bad behavior, we are still challenged to behave in a better way.

      Then he goes on to tell the story of the barren fig tree. The nature of a fig tree is to bear figs and so the master is angry with the tree that is barren. He orders it to be cut down but gives a reprieve for one year when the vine dresser pleads that it be given another chance.

      In meditation we are being still before the Lord so that our better nature can be called forth. We are not there out of fear of punishment or in an effort to put God in our debt. We are just there to be with BEing itself. As we do this we cannot but become more honest and seek to act more in accordance with our better nature. We will also become more perceptive of God’s Mercy and his gifts as they appear in our lives.


Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications

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Sundays into Silence

A Pathway to Life

by Gerry Pierse, cssr
380 pp., PhP 299, U$ 19.95

“The best word I can find to describe this book is integration. In these reflections on the gospel readings for year A, B, and C of the liturgical cycle, Fr. Pierse integrates the richness of the word of God with experiences and stories from life in the community. He shows how through silence, the word can bear fruit in service and sacrament.” (R. J. Cardinal Vidal)

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