February 28, 2016 — Third Sunday of Lent
You might say that God is trying to get our attention, making an effort to get us to listen to Him and to listen carefully. That is certainly what should be happening during Lent. Today’s readings seem to highlight how God tries to reach us, but, of course, the key is that we have to be both prepared to hear the Word and to respond to it.
We have often said that God calls us. In our readings today He calls us to conversion and to repentance, both important aspects of our Lenten journeys. Imagine the lengths to which God goes to get Moses’ attention in the First Reading. The Lord knows there is no point in speaking to Moses until He has Moses’ full attention and concentration. He presents to Moses a burning bush; however, it is not a common fire; as the reading says, “As he (Moses) looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.”
That captured Moses attention, and he moved in for a closer look. That is when God spoke to Moses, when He knew He had his full attention. Because of that Moses clearly heard the message and responded. God may not be presenting us with a burning bush, but He is presenting us with a Lenten journey. It is time for us to focus on the Lord’s call to us, to give it our full awareness and consideration.
In a similar fashion St. Paul is trying to get the attention of the Corinthians in our Second Reading. Paul is concerned about the people of Corinth, and, certainly, as is always the case, Paul is concerned about us as well. Speaking of the consequences of not understanding what happens if we stray from the Lord, if we do not make every effort to hear and to know and to act on what God is telling us, Paul paints a dreary picture for the Corinthians.
Just as God with Moses, once St. Paul has their attention, he delivers the message he really wishes to get across — that is, beware of being too confident. Lent is a time for us to evaluate our faith and where we are. Each of us should be striving for holiness, for a greater sense of how to serve God and one another through love and stewardship. None of us can fully achieve the yearning to be free from sin. The best way to resist temptation is to acknowledge it and seek God’s help in overcoming it.
During Lent we are all called to repent and to change. Jesus makes that call to repentance quite clear in our Gospel Reading from Luke, which includes the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree. Scholars maintain that God is the owner of the fig tree, and He looks to each of us to bear fruit, to do good and righteous works. Are we? Do we? That, too, is so important to us during this Lenten period. God is very patient with us but even His patience has a limit. God grants us this time in His mercy to indeed repent and to change our behaviors.
Is that what we are really trying to do? The point of all these readings is that judgment is always near; it is always imminent. We are called to conversion today and now. This is what our Lenten journey is all about. We are called, but we must listen to hear and heed that call. We are called to repentance and change. Now is the time.