THEME: GRACE PERIOD FOR REPENTANCE
READINGS: Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15/ 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12/ Luke 13:1-9
3rd Sunday of Lent
Our loving and merciful God often gives us grace periods to turn away from our sins and be saved.
What is a grace period?
In business transactions, a grace period is an extra time given to someone to pay the money he/she owes without losing something or paying an additional amount. For instance, a person takes a loan (e.g., GH¢10,000.00) which is expected to be fully repaid by 31st August, 2022. If the person is given an extended time to repay the loan by 30th September, 2022, without any penalty, then it means that he/she has a grace period of 30 days.
God’s grace periods
Similarly, God gives us grace periods to repent from our sins. The parable of our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s gospel reading illustrates the fact that often God gives us grace periods to turn away from our sins and be reconciled with Him. That is, just as the fruitless fig tree was given an extra year to bear fruit (cf. Luke 13:6-9), so we are given “extra time” to turn away from our sins and be saved.
Whereas a failing bank/company can hardly give grace periods to its clients, one whose business is booming may grant grace periods. Our God, more than a booming business, is very generous with His grace periods, because the spiritual profits from His investment in the incarnation, earthly life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ is inexhaustible. Indeed, the ever-merciful God is patient with us and gives us countless grace periods to turn away from sin and be saved (cf. 2 Peter 3:1-17).
Reminders for repentance
We are prone to forgetting that God has given us grace periods to repent and be saved. Merciful as He is, God allows certain happenings in life to remind us of His grace periods. These happenings could be good news (e.g., prosperity, successes, healing, opportunities, etc.) or bad news (e.g., disasters, accidents, failures, sicknesses, deaths, etc.).
In both today’s second and gospel readings, we are given instances of bad news which are to serve as reminders for us to repent. In the case of the second reading, St. Paul says that the fact that many of the Israelites who disobeyed God could not reach the Promised Land as they died in the wilderness is a warning for us: “Now, these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction …. Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:11-12).
Similarly, in the gospel reading, Jesus admonitions us that the tragedies of the Galileans whom Pilate killed and the eighteen people who were killed by the falling tower of Siloam are not occasions for us to judge and condemn the victims as sinful people. Rather, these disasters should remind us of God’s grace period to repent of our own sins: “do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you, ‘No’; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5).
Therefore, for instance, whereas millions have lost their lives in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are providentially alive. While we thank God for the gift of life, He wants us to see this as a grace period to repent of our sins and deepen our relationship with Him.
Henceforth, beloved, let us not always see a disaster, an accident, a failure, a sickness, a death, or the like as mere bad news; for it may be reminding us of God’s grace period for repentance. However, it is not all about bad news, for instances of good news may also be “extra time” to turn back to God and be saved. Finally, therefore, may we promptly respond to every reminder about God’s grace period and enjoy its full benefits. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John K. Louis