“Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.” Today’s Gospel Reading from Luke 13:1-9 begins with an account of a historical event that is unattested to outside of Luke, but would have been a tactic that was quite consistent with what we know ash wednesdayabout Pontius Pilate from the historical writings of Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100).

From what we remember about Job’s friends, and even what we know about our own inclinations, there seems to be a tendency by some people, or at times, to blame God when something terrible happens. As if every misfortune comes directly from the hand of God. In today’s narrative, Jesus responds to that false notion by telling those who had come to Him, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” Jesus then went on to give account of another event that is also unattested to outside of Luke, and ends it with the very same warning – “Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

While it is clear from sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church that all sins do not have the same gravity (Cf. 1 Jn 16-17, CCC 1854-1864), it is equally true what Christ Jesus is saying here – that all sins require repentance. Perhaps in Hebrew the word He would have used was shuwb (שׁוּב), which means ‘to return’ ‘to turn back’. The Greek equivalent to shuwb is metanoeo, which we see being used whenever Jesus proclaims in Scripture, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

From the only prayer He taught us, to the Sacraments of the Church He gave us, to His definitive act on the Cross for us; we know that our Lord passionately understands that temptation and sin will be a struggle for us in this life. In response to that knowledge of His what He did was empower us with all of the greatest resources we needed to live this life free from the consequences of sin, which is eternal damnation – eternal separation from God – death. From the beginning, God knew every sin that each of us would ever commit. He knew the very moment that each of us would offend Him by saying ‘no’ His grace, and ‘yes’ to Satan’s machinations. That God still allows us the opportunity to awake another day to try to love Him better by turning away from sin, attests to His magnanimous mercy.

I sincerely hope that your Lent is going well. I hope that what you said you would do, you’re doing. But if you are struggling – if you are still missing opportunities sometimes to say ‘yes’ to God’s heart, just believe that He loves you, that He hasn’t forsaken you, and that He understands. Also remember that Lent is always a great season to take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (Confession).

Our Heavenly Father’s love isn’t like human love. His love is not just an apathetic acquaintance. While God knows that you will sin against Him, He’s simultaneously doing all that He can to empower you not to sin against Him. He desires you to be more than you desire for yourself to be. He’s unceasingly in the process of courting your heart to His own, and conforming your entire self into the image of Christ Jesus His Son. If you truly desire eternal life with Him who loved you first, then all you have to do is say ‘yes’ to Him. Lent is a great season to get into the rigor that it requires to Cooperate with God in that necessary response.

“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.