Fr. Kurian KollapallilWhy does God permit the innocent people to suffer? Why the ISIS continue to slaughter and torture good people? The problem of human suffering and evil in the world raises serious questions. People of Israel believed that God punished the people either through violence, war or though epidemics as a result of their sins or because of their parents’ sins. Jesus doesn’t attribute tragedy or accident directly to any person’s sin as the Jews did; instead he affirmed the sinfulness of every one. A person who flagrantly sins can expect judgment to come eventually, though it may be long delayed. Victims of calamity die physically, but anyone who does not repent faces spiritual death.

Jesus said the parable of the fig tree. The fig tree which was in the vineyard failed to yield fruit. It remained barren. For three years the farmer waited patiently looking for fruit, but it did not produce any. So the farmer wants to cut it down. But the gardener pleaded to the owner of the fig tree not to cut it down, instead to tend it for another year giving opportunity to produce. Jesus said this parable in order to illustrate God’s dealings with Israel and their wickedness despite all his kindness. The man who owned the vineyard is God and the vineyard is Israel, the fig tree represents each individual. The coming of the owner for fruit is God’s desire for people to produce good works. The barrenness of the tree represents the wickedness of the people.
Do not waste the precious chances
During our given short life time, God expects us to fulfill God’s plan for us.  Constant failures, lack of seriousness might have dulled our lives. Sloth and procrastination would have been our constant companions. Regrets of the past and lost opportunities may haunt our memories. Wasted precious years and failures may dissuade us. But now is the time to be serious about our given short life and to be what we are expected to be.  Jesus our high priest who is the mediator between God and man is continually interceding for us but unless we do our part of repenting and changing our behavior, his intercession will be of no avail to us.  God does not want anyone to be destroyed but He always respects our freedom and humility to repent. He calls us to be vigilant and alert to listen to Him and respond to Him.  God is patient and gives opportunity by warnings and signs, by teachings and examples for the sinner to repent. After enjoying all the sunshine and showers of divine blessings one cannot remain barren; God expects each one to produce fruit. The gardener in the parable is Jesus himself who pleads for us continuously.  Every year during the season of lent he gives us new opportunities to come back to him and renew ourselves so that we are worthy of the kingdom God.
A new life and a new beginning is a gift from God. It begins with our sincere repentance and cooperation to the grace of God.  Repentance demands that we become honest to ourselves and recognize our unfruitfulness and change ourselves to bear the right fruit for God. In whatever given status of our lives, according to each one’s calling we must respond to God’s calling. God promises an auspicious future for us, by freeing us from the effects and influences of the past. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins” (Isaiah 44:22). “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

“The serpent came and advised Eve to break this commandment. She listened to him and prevailed over her husband. They discussed the prohibition which was made to them, saying: “Indeed! Even though God has threatened us with death, we shall surely not die, for He has not created us to die.’ They ate it, and died a spiritual death.” St. Francis de Sales