Lectio Divina: Luke 13:1-9
1) Opening prayer
Almighty and everlasting God,
our source of power and inspiration,
give us strength and joy
in serving You as followers of Christ,
who lives and reigns
with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 13:1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “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! 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!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
• The Gospel today gives us information which is only found in Luke’s Gospel. There are no parallel passages in the other Gospels. We are meditating on the long journey from Galilee to Jerusalem and which takes almost half of Luke’s Gospel, from chapter 9 to chapter 19 (Lk 9:51 to 19:28). In this part Luke places most of the information on the life and teaching of Jesus (Lk 1:1-4).
• Luke 13:1: The event which requires an explanation. “At that time some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of the their sacrifices.” When we read the newspaper or watch the news on TV, we receive much information, but we do not always understand all its meaning. We listen to everything, but we really do not know what to do with so much information and news. There are terrible news items, such as tsunami, terrorism, wars, hunger, violence, crime, attacks, etc. This is how the news of the horrible massacre which Pilate, the Roman Governor, ordered regarding some Samaritan pilgrims had reached Jesus. Such news upsets us, throws us off. And one asks, “What can I do?” To assuage their conscience, many defend themselves and say, “It is their fault! They do not work! They are lazy people!”
• Luke 13:2-3: Jesus’ response. Jesus has a different opinion. “Do you suppose that those Galileans were worse sinners than any others that this should have happened to them? I tell you ‘no’, but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell, killing them all? Do you suppose that they were worse offenders than all the other people living in Jerusalem? I tell you ‘no,, but unless you repent you will perish as they did.” He seeks to invite to conversion and to change.
• Luke 13:4-5: Jesus comments on another situation. “Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell, killing them all; do you believe they were worse offenders than all the other people in Jerusalem?”
It must have been a disaster which was much discussed in the city. A thunderstorm knocked down the tower of Siloam killing eighteen people who were seeking shelter under it. The typical comment was “punishment from God!” Jesus repeats, “I tell you ‘no’, but unless you repent you will perish as they did.” They were not converted, they did not change, and forty years later Jerusalem was destroyed and many people died, being killed in the Temple like the Samaritans and many people died under the debris or rubble of the walls of the city. Jesus tried to warn them, but the request for peace was not accepted: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” (Lk 13:34).
• Luke 13:6-9: A parable to make people think and discover God’s project. “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to his vinedresser, “for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none.” Then he said to the vinedresser, “Cut it down; why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied, “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it; it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.” Many times the vine is used to indicate God’s affection for His people, or to indicate the lack of response on the part of the people to God’s love (Is 5:1-7; 27:2-5; Jer 2:21; 8:13; Ex 19:10-14; Hos 10:1-8; Mic 7, 1; Jn 15:1-6). In the parable, the landlord of the vine is God, the Father. The vinedresser who intercedes on behalf of the vine is Jesus. He pleads with the Father to extend the space, the time of conversion.
4) Personal questions
• God’s people, God’s vineyard. I am part of this vineyard. If I apply this parable to myself, what conclusion do I draw?
• What do I do with the news that I receive? Do I seek to form a critical opinion, or do I continue to have the opinion of the majority and of the mass media?
• In today’s world, there are not only the traditional news sources with their political agendas, but there is also social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. They also reinforce each other. One will pick up stories or ideas from another and spin it. Do I have the skill to discern truth from these outlets? What can I do or learn to be able to find the truth in world events?
5) Concluding prayer
Who is like Yahweh our God?
His throne is set on high,
but He stoops to look down on heaven and earth.
He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the dunghill. (Ps 113:5-7)