Third Sunday of Lent - 24th March, 2019

Liturgical Reflection

Readings: Ex 3:1-8,13-15; 1Co 10:1-6,10-12; Lk 13: 1-9

 

This gospel passage from Luke is unusual.  It is found in no other gospel.  Why is it here?

In many cultures – and it used to be in our own – when disaster happened, it was seen as a punishment for sin - or for something wrong people had done.

These questioners in the gospel were curious.  They asked Jesus, when this local disaster came, ‘Who were the greater sinners?  The ones who were killed or the ones who weren’t?  Jesus firmly says, ‘No connection at all!’ between personal sin and this kind of disaster.
We have questions too.
Why did so many innocent people die and be injured in the mosques in Christchurch last week?
Why have so many children and vulnerable adults been sexually abused in Australia?
Why could God let this happen?

I remembered a book written by a Rabbi.  I thought it was, ‘Why bad things happen to good people’.  But when I looked it up on the web, that is not the title!
It is ‘When bad things happen to good people’ by Rabbi Harold Kushner.  We don’t have an answer to ‘Why’.  Jesus doesn’t give an answer either.

Rabbi Kushner’s book helped thousands of people to cope with their grief by living with it.
He reminds us, that when we cry out to God in anguish, God responds by sending us people -...doctors, nurses, friends ...’  Human beings are God’s language’.

 

This is the message of Exodus today.  Moses’ curiosity about the ‘burning bush’ led to him being asked to be God’s messenger, God’s language.  Moses’ understandable reluctance led to a major affirmation by God – ‘I am who I am’ – the mystery of a loving God listening to the cry of the poor and sending a human messenger, Moses, to do something about it.

St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is somewhat terse: God’s blessings are for all but not all respond, eg Moses and the people in Exodus.  All received God’s blessings and care but not all responded!  Take care, St Paul warns lest are you missing out on God!

Jesus is God’s human messenger, God’s language.  In today’s parable, God is the patient gardener, giving the unfruitful fig tree more fertiliser, more care and more chances to grow and bear fruit.

God will not zap us with lightning if we fail to grow in love of God and neighbour but there is sadness at the loss of the fruit of goodness that should grow in each of us.  It is also a warning to those of us who keep putting thing off.  Eventually, our time is up!

Lent is a time for letting go, for giving of our time, talents and possessions to others: and for growing anew - bringing forth fruit - in response to the blessings ‘I am Who I am’ showers on us.

Rose Mary Kinne op