St. Peter's Square
III Sunday of Lent, March 24, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The Gospel of this third Sunday of Lent (see Lk 13: 1-9) speaks to us of the mercy of God and of our conversion. Jesus tells the parable of the barren fig. A man has planted a fig in his own vineyard, and with great confidence every summer he goes to look for his fruits but he does not find any, because that tree is sterile. Driven by that disappointment repeated for a good three years, he thinks of cutting the fig tree to plant another one. He then calls the farmer who is in the vineyard and expresses his dissatisfaction, ordering him to cut the tree, so that it does not exploit the ground unnecessarily. But the winemaker asks the owner to be patient and asks him for a one-year extension, during which he will take care of reserving a more careful and delicate care for the fig tree, to stimulate its productivity. This is the parable. What does this parable represent? What do the characters in this parable represent?
The master depicts God the Father and the winemaker is the image of Jesus, while the fig tree is a symbol of indifferent and arid humanity. Jesus intercedes with the Father in favor of humanity - and he always does - and asks him to wait and give her some more time, so that the fruits of love and justice may spring up in it. The fig tree that the owner of the parable wants to eradicate represents a sterile existence, incapable of giving, unable to do good. He is a symbol of the one who lives for himself, full and calm, laid down in his comfort, unable to turn his eyes and heart to those who are close to him and find themselves in a state of suffering, poverty and discomfort. This attitude of selfishness and spiritual sterility is countered by the great love of the winemaker towards the fig tree: it makes the master wait, he has patience, he knows how to wait, he dedicates his time and his work to him. He promises his master to take special care of that unhappy tree.
And this similitude of the winemaker manifests the mercy of God, which leaves us a time for conversion. We all need to convert, to take a step forward, and God's patience, mercy, accompanies us in this. Despite the sterility, which sometimes marks our existence, God has patience and offers us the possibility of changing and making progress on the path of good. But the extension implored and granted while waiting for the tree to finally bear fruit, also indicates the urgency of the conversion. The winemaker tells the master: "Leave him this year" (v. 8). The possibility of conversion is not unlimited; therefore it is necessary to seize it immediately; otherwise it would be lost forever. We can think in this Lent: what must I do to get closer to the Lord, to convert, to "cut" those things that are not going well? "No, no, I'll wait for the next Lent". But will you be alive next Lent? Let us think today, each of us: what must I do before this mercy of God that awaits me and that always forgives? What should I do? We can rely heavily on God's mercy, but without abusing it. We must not justify spiritual laziness, but increase our commitment to respond promptly to this mercy with sincerity of heart.
In the time of Lent, the Lord invites us to conversion. Each of us must feel challenged by this call, correcting something in our lives, in our own way of thinking, acting and living relationships with others. At the same time, we must imitate the patience of God who trusts in the ability of all to be able to "get up" and resume the journey. God is Father, and does not extinguish the weak flame, but accompanies and cares for those who are weak so that they may be strengthened and bring their contribution of love to the community. May the Virgin Mary help us to live these days of preparation for Easter as a time of spiritual renewal and trusting openness to the grace of God and to his mercy.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
since February 27, important talks are underway in Nicaragua to resolve the serious socio-political crisis facing the country. I accompany the initiative with prayer and encourage the parties to find a peaceful solution for the good of all as soon as possible.
Yesterday in Tarragona, Spain, Mariano Mullerat i Soldevila was beatified, a father of a family and a doctor, a young man, he died at 39 years of age, who took care of the physical and moral suffering of his brothers, bearing witness to the primacy of charity and forgiveness. An example for us, to which it is so much to forgive, to all of us. He intercedes for us and helps us to walk the paths of love and fraternity, despite the difficulties and tribulations. A round of applause for the new Blessed!
Today we celebrate the Day in memory of the martyr missionaries. During 2018, throughout the world, numerous bishops, priests, nuns and lay faithful suffered violence; while forty missionaries were killed, almost double compared to the previous year. Remembering this contemporary ordeal of brothers and sisters persecuted or killed because of their faith in Jesus, is a duty of gratitude for the whole Church, but also a stimulus to testify with courage our faith and our hope in Him who on the Cross has hatred and violence won forever with his love.
We pray for the many victims of the latest inhuman attacks in Nigeria and Mali. The Lord welcome these victims, heal the wounded, console the family and convert cruel hearts. Let us pray: "Hail Mary!"
I greet all of you from Rome, Italy and from different countries, in particular the pilgrims from Pula (Croatia), Coslada (Spain) and the community of the Pontifical French Seminary. I greet the faithful of Dogana, Carpi, Faenza, Castellammare di Stabia; the group of associated women to face together their peculiar pathology; the scouts of Campobasso, the confirmed of Cervarese Santa Croce, the boys of the profession of faith of Renate, Veduggio and Rastignano, the students of the Institutes of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Turin and Vercelli, and those of the school of S. Dorotea of Montecchio Emilia.
Tomorrow, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, I will go to Loreto, in the House of the Virgin. I chose this place for the signature of the Apostolic Exhortation dedicated to young people. I ask for your prayer, so that the "yes" of Mary may become the "yes" of many of us.
I wish you all a good Sunday. And please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!
FULL Text Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation