|The Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15
Psalms 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11
First Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
We often hear Moses talking to the people of Israel, but today we hear God speaking to Moses. The life of this wandering shepherd will take a drastic turn after this interruption.
At this point I would like to admit that I wrote a reflection for this date last week and lost it in computer-space. Eight hundred words, blessed by God and destined for the complete conversion of thousands; gone! God then spoke to me through my burning computer, “Let it go and I’ll save the thousands without you.” I felt terrible, humbled and grateful, all at the same time.
Now Moses was asked to take off his shoes, because the ground upon which he was standing was holy. He was being asked to help rescue God’s chosen people from the unholy land of Egypt and bring them into the Holy Land of the Promise. He asked God for some credentials, some identity and God told him that “I Am” sent me. Moses knew himself to be “I Am Not,” and so he left his flock to guide another.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is presented with a question about whether bad things happen to people, because they have sinned. Jesus brings to the minds of those inquiring, a second event where some tower fell on some folks and they were killed. He asks them if these Galilieans were killed because they were sinners. Jesus moves from the historical to the future with a timely parable.
There was an owner of a fig tree who came to gather fruit after three years. Jesus’ own ministry will be three years. The owner finds nothing growing and tells the gardener to chop it down, but the gardener asks for one more year in which he personally will cultivate and fertilize the tree. Here’s the real punch line. If after that one year there is no fruit, then the tree will fall. God is the Owner and Jesus the Gardener and the listeners are getting the picture about who they are. Sin is a bad thing and some consequences may happen which are not good. Not all the bad things in our lives are a consequence of sin. Some are simply a result of our humanity, our “I Am Notness.”
Did I lose my document because I had sinned or just been a bad computer user?
Lent is an interruption to redirect our lives, to get us to take off our shoes and remember how human we are. Lent is that “one more year” that lasts for more than 365 days. The Owner is patient, the Gardener is at work to bring about the fruitfulness of our lives. Lent is the time for growing, at least in this part of the world. Lent is the time for growing in the parts of our human lives which have not been productive of the fruits of God’s life in us.
Time is passing away and it is the Third Sunday already and we might
be wondering whether we are fruitful in our lives. Israel was in
slavery to the Egyptians and Moses was sent to bring them out from slavery
and for service. We need many interruptions in our lives to move
us from our comfort, from our inattentiveness to those in slavery around
us. We are being invited to take off our shoes of insensitivity and
feel the earth from which we came and to which we are going to return.
The Burning Bush, the Fig Tree were rooted in that same earth. The
Gardener has come onto this good earth to sanctify it. The Gardener
now labors within us to complete the creation and bring the full fruitfulness
of the Kingdom back to the Owner.
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