God of second chances


God of second chances

“… let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good” Luke 13:8-9

I got to know Carlin (our Labrador Retriever) through his frequent visits for Sunday evening Mass at St. Patrick parish in Hamilton, ON. It was a part of his training and preparation to wear the badge of a “service dog”. I loved interacting with him before the Mass when the training vest was off since he was such a playful, full of life and kind puppy. I thought he would be an excellent companion for someone struggling with anxiety or other physical and psychological challenges in life. He would serve those in need well! However, something went wrong…

One day his trainer called me with a desperate request. Carlin failed the service dog training and was looking for a home. Since I just lost my old black Labrador Retriever, Sutton, and the dogs have been a part of our Oblate community for a long time, I didn’t hesitate to adopt another puppy. However, when he came home, he wasn’t the Carlin that I knew… He was very protective and fearful, expressing lots of aggression. Considering that our dogs have an important ministry in the office and the schools, one evening myself and Fr. Tony decided to “give him back”. Fortunately, we slept on this decision and the next morning, we came to a conclusion, “He might not be able to be involved in the ministry, but let’s give him a second chance!” It took some effort getting him through dog training, and more importantly giving him lots of TLC. Now, Carlin is one of the most caring, kind and fun-loving pups around; and certainly, welcomed and expected in our feeder schools. I don’t know what would have happened to him if we didn’t give him a second chance…

This weekend’s Gospel parable reminds us that our God is a God of second chances. “… let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good” (Luke 13:8-9). Life can get complicated sometimes because of the choices we make or circumstances that come upon us. We cannot go back in time and change the past. The only way is to learn from the past, “dig around it and put manure on it” and with gratitude embrace God’s mercy. I don’t know what would happen to me if God hadn’t given me a second chance… “The Lord is kind and merciful” (Psalm 103)

The season of Lent gives us an opportunity to renew our relationship with God and others. It’s a blessed time of second chances! It’s a gift of God’s grace but also requires some “horticultural” work on our part through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This is our second chance!

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director