March 20, 2022
Third Sunday of Lent
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have powerful readings – they get really serious about repentance!
In our first reading, Moses has been on a kind of decades-long sabbatical on his father-in-law’s homestead. After the young glory days of Egypt, and the ensuing drama that exiled him, Moses had settled into being a humble shepherd in Midian. He probably wasn’t expecting a fiery, direct telegram from God.
But God never gives up on the eternal plan for us. So God, divinely expert at getting our attention, conflagrates a bush right in front of Moses. Supposedly, it was not that unusual for this type of bush to spontaneously combust in the desert heat. What was unusual was for it not to be consumed by the fire.
God then delivers a message of overwhelming fidelity 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.
Because of God’s mercy and fidelity, the Israelites – and Moses – are getting another chance to live in covenant with God.
In our Gospel, Jesus tells his followers not to ignore such chances. He reminds his listeners that life is fragile and transitory. If we haven’t acted on God’s invitation to grace, we might lose the opportunity. Again, using the symbol of a tree…
Jesus 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.
If we look back over our lives, we might realize that there have been burning bushes all over the place – times and events where life offered us a choice between grace or sin, smallness of heart, and selfishness. When we chose grace, the bush kept burning and was not consumed. It lit our way to deeper covenant with God.
These final weeks of Lent offer us countless encouragements to look for God’s Fire in our hearts and to go deeper toward the Light. Let’s not ignore them.
Poetry: Burning Bush by Karle Wilson Baker, American poet, (1878 – 1960)
This poem refers to the plant “burning bush”, but carries sentiments touching on faith, hope and peace similar to our readings.
My heart, complaining like a bird,
Kept drooping on her weary nest:
” Oh, take me out under the sky,
Find me a little rest! “
I took her out under the sky,
I climbed a straggling, sandy street,
Where little weathered houses sag,
And town and country meet,
And in the corner of a yard
Unkempt, forlorn, and winter-browned,
A single sprig of Burning Bush
Thrust up from the bare ground.
It bore no leaf as yet — one flower,
Three pointed buds of pure rose-flame:
Up whirred my heart, circled in air,
Back to my bosom came.
And that was all I showed to her —
I could not find another thing —
But, ” Take me home again, ” she cried,
” And I will sing and sing! “
Music: Fire of God – Craig Musseau