Third Sunday of Lent, Year C

Alexey Pismenny - "Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree"

Turning away from sin is a good thing. However, it is possible to turn away from sin and still not know where you are going! Repentance is concerned not primarily with the act of turning away from sin but with turning toward God. When we run toward God, we will turn our backs on sin, but our focus will not be on our sins but on the loving mercy of God that we seek to fill our lives.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to repent—to change our mind and heart—and turn toward him. Repentance is not so much the act of saying what you are NOT going to do from now on (sins you’re going to avoid) but what you WILL be doing from now on (what you will do to move toward God). Simply focusing on turning away from sin can result in us courting another unhealthy behavior on the rebound, such as when someone quits smoking but starts to eat more. It is like treating the symptom while ignoring the cure. True repentance is not tip-toeing away from sin but is rather a full-on dash toward the One who saves us with his mercy.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  • Why is God’s mercy worth running toward? What is God’s mercy and how does it affect us?
  • What does it mean, in practical terms, to “turn to God?”

For complete materials on reflecting on the Lenten Scriptures, download free discussion materials for Lent.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

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