“Marami ang namamatay sa maling akala. (Many people are killed by wrong presumptions.)”
Man’s very life are relationships. Man is a social being in his creation, journey, and destination. Whether we are aware of it or not, by God and nature, we are all connected to one another. No man can ever isolate himself from the rest of creation for being a man entails being part of humanity. By these facts, it follows then that whatever we do, whether good or evil creates a ripple that affects everyone creating a totality that will always be greater than the sum of its parts. We tend to forget these and it is the reason why so many people are killed by presumptuous attitude or in other words so many relationships are ended by wrong presumptions.
Throughout history, wrong presumptions have led to many wars, misunderstandings and corruptions. We have not applied the Lord’s teaching to “stop judging so that [we] may not be judged. For as [we] judge, so will [we] be judged and the measure with which [we] measure will be measured out to [us]” (Mat 7:1-2). So thus we have condemned ourselves. All of us have been in the habit of speaking about the wrongdoings or defects of another as if we are not connected to them, as if they do not belong to us, as if their wrongdoing is just their concern and never ours, as if they’re not our brothers and sisters and we’re not their keepers.
At this moment, it would be very timely to reflect on the words of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet on Crime and Punishment: “And when one of you falls down, he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone. Ay, and he also falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot yet removed not the stumbling stone.” We cannot be totally blameless of the faults of our brothers and sisters, of those who are related to us in any way. We often do not realize that each sin is not just an offense against God but also an offense against ourselves and all human beings out there. Sin is not only an alienation from God but also from our true selves and from whole of humanity. Hence, what we must do to one who sinned is always to reach out and never to condemn. For in the final analysis, we have all wronged one another and all of us deserves forgiveness.
On the First Reading, Moses found out that he can never isolate himself from God and his people, their slavery is his slavery. Thus we must realize that as long as there are slaves to anything in this world, we cannot truly be free. The Second Reading reminds us that our journey in this life is like the journey of the Israelite people; that we never journey alone but always as a people and that the reason why many of them perish is because they want to isolate their journey. The Gospel brings home the warning about presumption. Salvation is for all as repentance is for all. We must never presume about the wrongdoings of others for in God’s eyes the good can’t become better than the highest potential in each of us and the evil can’t become worse than the ugliest defect in each of us. And we are one another’s keepers. If one perishes among us, a part of ourselves perish with them. The isolated fig tree in the orchard can’t be isolated from the duty of bearing fruit with the whole orchard. I believe that the main fault of the fig tree is not in being without fruit but rather in not bearing fruit with the orchard. Like the fig tree, all of us needs that one more chance so may we give it to others also. May we realize that God’s help to bear fruit with others is always there for as the Psalm response tells us, “The Lord is kind and merciful” and never presumptuous. But we may also give this kindness and mercy to others as the worker in the orchard did for the fig tree.
It is now apt for us to remember the scene of Pilate’s condemnation of Jesus. Upon Pilate’s presumption on truth, he condemned Jesus and with that condemnation, he condemned himself. How very providential that this picture also shows the reflection of the environment on the glass reminding us that every time we become presumptuous, we become like Pilate, and that the condemnation we hurl to others reflect back to us.
3rd Sunday of Lent Year C
1st Reading: Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15
Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Lk 13:1-9