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Third Sunday of Lent

March 7, 2010

Blessed Sunday!

Father, You have taught us to overcome our sins
by prayer, fasting and works of mercy.
When we are discouraged by our weakness,
give us confidence in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer from today’s Mass)

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15 (Moses & the burning bush)
Psalm 103: 1-11 “The Lord is kind and merciful”
I Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12 (beware complacency)
+Luke 13:1-9 (God will fertilize us, but if we don’t fruitfully repent, we’ll be cut down)

God cares too much about us, is too intimately involved in our lives,
to just sit back and watch when we “go through the motions”.
In His mercy, He disturbs us.

Moses first experienced this on Mt. Horeb, in the midst of the daily round of shepherding.
From the midst of a bush that burned without being consumed, God caught his attention.
When Moses drew near, God stopped him, told him to remove his sandals
and revealed Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
the fathers of Moses’ heritage. He revealed Himself first as God in relationship,
in covenant with His chosen people, and only then as the God of transcendence
(“I AM who AM”, Exodus 3:14).

Nor did God’s mercy stop at disturbing Moses.
He had witnessed His people’s slavery, had heard their cry,
and had come down to rescue them…by disturbing them.
He so disrupted Egyptian life that the Egyptians finally sent them away.
By God’s power, they “died” to the only life they had ever known and “rose”
to a whole new life. “…by the cloud and the sea
all of them were baptized into Moses” (I Corinthians 10:2).

This, however, was only the beginning.
The Israelites still had to get the slave mentality out of their hearts
and to learn to take on the responsibilities of freedom.
So God continued to disturb them, to teach them the confidence in Him
that would lead to courage and wisdom. Most of them refused to learn.
They tried to “rest on their laurels” of baptism into Moses, grumbling against God
and following their wicked desires…and they perished.
St. Paul tells us that this was for our benefit–that we, baptized into Christ,
might learn from their example.
“…let anyone who thinks he stands watch out lest he fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12).

Jesus continued this trend of disturbing the satisfied.
To those who thought the victims of recent tragedies were only getting what they deserved,
Jesus declared that they would all come to the same end unless they reformed.
He went on to describe a barren fig tree which would get one last chance,
one last round of disturbance (“I will hoe around it and manure it”, Luke 13:8),
before it was cut down.

Lent is, par excellence, God’s season to disturb us.
It’s His time to surprise us from a burning bush,
to lead us away from everything we’ve ever known to a whole new lifestyle of holiness.
It’s our time to take off our shoes, realizing that this is holy ground;
time to turn our backs on our oh-so-familiar slavery
and walk the unfamiliar ground of freedom in total dependence on His provision.
It’s God’s time to hoe around us and manure us; our time to bear good fruit.

May we take Him up on His involvement.

Yours in the shakeup,

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