FigTree“Repent or Perish”: Pope Francis Reflects

It’s never too late to begin our Lenten journey anew.

The Third Sunday of Lent (Year C)  February 28, 2016

The Third Sunday of Lent marks the midway point of the Lenten season. The gospel reading from Luke features the Parable of the Fig Tree, an all-too familiar reading. This parable presents us with a stark choice, however. We can either repent or perish.

In his Angelus address yesterday in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reflects on Sunday’s gospel. He reminds us that Lent is a season of renewed discipleship, where we are called to recommit ourselves to follow Christ more faithfully. It is a time of deeper conversion.

His reflection isn’t just a gentle reminder to “get closer to Jesus.” It is accompanied by a strong warning. He cautions us that our Lenten journey is meant to be more than just a casual stroll. Jesus, in fact, “calls us to make a radical turn on the journey of our life, by abandoning compromises with evil — and we all so this.” There must be an urgency and sense of purpose to our journey. We must recognize our need for conversion, for a change of heart  – and for our need of God’s mercy.

Unfortunately, each of us greatly resembles a tree that, for years, has given many proofs of its barrenness. But fortunately for us, Jesus is like the vinedresser who, with limitless patience, continues to obtain a reprieve for the barren fig tree: “Let it alone, sir, this year also,” he says to the master […] And if it bears fruit next year, well and good.”

We have been on our Lenten journey for three weeks. Have our Lenten resolutions been bringing us closer to Christ? Are we even practicing any of the three traditional pillars of Lent: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting? Do we remain focused on our final destination, namely Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Or, have our daily cares and concerns brought our Lenten journey to a standstill?

Deeper conversion demands something of us. It takes effort on our part. Fortunately, it is never too late to begin our Lenten journey anew. Indeed, our ever-merciful God never stops reaching out to us, waiting for us to repent and change our ways.

As Pope Francis concludes: “It’s never too late to repent, but it is urgent, and the time is now. Let’s begin today.”

Pope Francis’s reflection, taken from Aleteia, can be found here.