Third Week of Lent
1st Reading: Exodus 3:1–8a, 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.”
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 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: Luke 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.’”
GOD OF MERCY: God is pleased when we live positively. In His desire to ensure this, he hears the cry of his people when they are seeking for help. When the sons of Jacob cried to God in Egypt, He heard their cry and sent Moses to rescue them (Exod 3:13-15). God reveals himself to Moses as compassionate and faithful. He keeps his promises to Abraham. We therefore need to turn to God in repentance. In this way, we win God’s favour and mercy. While in this world, God gives each one of us time to make up our minds and decide freely to turn back to him. God does not force us. Turning back to Him and repenting means having Eternal Life. Not repenting means eternal condemnation. Being a Christian and living in a state of sin is not being a Christian. The person who does not repent will perish (Luke 13:5a).
Prayer : Lord, hear the cry of all who call upon your name seeking for your forgiveness.
ALWAYS A SECOND CHANCE: In a game of football, a yellow card stands for a warning. Once shown this card, a player goes on but more cautiously. Lent is a time for repentance and conversion. It is a time for us to examine ourselves if we are dealing with our own misgivings rather than blaming others for our own failures. It is also time to reassure ourselves that we have a compassionate and merciful God, always ready to forgive and give second chances. The parable of the barren fig tree portrays a season of relief and a chance to change and bear fruit, with proper care and maintenance. Lent gives us a serious warning on the consequences of living in sin and the need for repentance and conversion. The call to repentance is something urgent and must be heeded daily in our lives. Jesus’ call to repentance is not for a one-time one-shot change of heart but is for ongoing repentance and conversion in our lives.