The gospel reading: Luke 13:1-9
It is common knowledge that sin is the source of life’s misery. Human nature always looks for something to blame. Jesus avoided to answer the question directly but spoke about repentance twice, meaning emphasis. The unrepentant heart brings destruction, while repentance brings a time of refreshing.
Acts 3:19 - Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Three Essential Christian Disciplines (Fasting, Prayer and Acts of Mercy)
Fasting - As a penitential practice, fasting is designed to strengthen spiritual life by weakening the attractions of sensible pleasures. The early Church continued the Jewish custom of linking fasting and prayer, and in the lives of the saints the two almost always go together.
Lack of discipline, humans, may be driven by earthly, selfish, fleshly desires, to the point that they control lives instead of being in control over wrong desire, consequently, enslaved by sinful passions.
Isaiah 58:6-11“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To lose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
Prayer is understood in terms of a petition which we make to God for the things which pertain to our salvation. In its original sense of ‘petition,’ prayer is a universal phenomenon, wherever people believe that they are in some way dependent on some higher power not subject to their control. Everyone has need of the gods’ (Homer, Od. 3. 48). Prayer involves among many things thanks-giving and confession. It is raising one’s heart to God. It is not only asking something from God but opening the heart to hear what God is saying to the person. It is a 2-way street.
Matthew 17:21 - However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Acts of Mercy
Isaiah 58:7 - Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
It is easy to fall into the trap of only thinking about oneself and needs, resulting in indifference to the needs of those around us. God is an incredibly generous God, He bestows us things we don’t deserve.
Psalm 41:1-3 - Blessed is he who considers the poor; The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, And he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.
Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,
Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Galatians 2:10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
Isaiah Then continues in verse 8-10... your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ ‘If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
By: Bishop Jose Elmer Belmonte