3rd Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 24, 2019

First reading: Ex. 3:1-8,13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever; thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

Second reading: 1 Cor. 10:1-6,10-12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

Gospel: Lk. 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus 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.’”

In other words Fr. Magdaleno Fabiosa, SVD (VCR, Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City)

The first reading from the Book of Exodus on the call of Moses contains two teachings that are of great consequence. First, it lays down the starting point and the purpose of every vocation where its significance is clarified in all its beauty. Second, it provides us with the first self-identification of God. Here the true essence of God is revealed. God wants to be present in the lives of His people; He is concerned with what happens to them.

Let us look at the text. God says to Moses: I have seen the suffering of my people; I have heard their cry; I know well the suffering they are undergoing; and I am upset, I am disturbed, I have decided to do something, to intervene, and to set My people free. And now comes a description of the inconceivable way in which God decided to pursue and to accomplish his plans. He continued saying to Moses: I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people out of Egypt.

THIS IS NOT FAIR! This is a natural and understandable reaction to what God did. He sees and hears the suffering of the people and is affected and disturbed by this. He has decided to do something about the situation of the Israelites in Egypt. Then, He sends Moses to do it. Is this fair?

Here, we are dealing with the mystery of how God deals with His people in the world, including us today. God will not and cannot intervene directly in this world. He needs the instrumentality of people who are willing to give Him their flesh and bones, their bodies, their talents and gifts through which He will make His presence felt in the midst of the human situation. He needs people to do what He wants done for the people and for the world as a whole.

The only assurance Moses gets is this promise from God: Do not be afraid, I will be with you. As if God is saying to Moses: It is not you who will do the work. I will be with you and will see you through it. Just trust Me.

The beauty of our Christian calling is that our human life, our human actions can become the carriers of God’s saving actions. I am a partner of God. My life, therefore, counts. If God chooses someone He will stay with this person no matter how unfaithful the person may be. If I refuse God He will not stop loving me, but He might have to use another person to reach me.

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word