3rd Sunday of Lent (Fr. Vinner)
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this Third Sunday of Lent, as we approach the halfway point of our Lenten journey, the Scriptures bring us into a room of plants, where we encounter both the Burning Bush and the Fig Tree. In this encounter, with Moses, with Jesus and his disciples, we are asked to reflect on not how we are growing or training, but on how it is that we are being grown, how it is that we are being trained, shaped and re-shaped. It is an important distinction to keep in mind and heart.
We have crossed two milestones – the desert and the mountain, on our journey to holiness. Our lives cannot be imagined without these milestones, those moments of trials and those experiences of glory! The next milestone is that which gives meaning and significance to both of the preceding milestones. Whether it is a trial or temptation or a success or achievement, it makes sense when we realize, we stand on a holy ground! That is an inescapable truth we need to acknowledge, if we have to really grow in our holiness and grow up to bearing fruit.
Bearing fruit is an inevitable call; I have to by all means, show a difference in my life. If I do not show that difference, that bit of growth that comes from an authentic eagerness towards perfection, I cannot claim that I belong to God, or that I am from God, or that I have an ongoing rapport with God. I have no excuses to make and that is what the Word today establishes without doubt.
I have no excuses because, I am accompanied with daily miracles by the Lord. As the Lord accompanied the people of Israel as a cloud and the pillar of fire, the Lord accompanies me with daily miracles in my life. I may or may not recognize the countless miracles that happen all around me but they are constantly there. The daily dose of life, the air that I breathe, the vital sustenance that is ensured…what are these but miracles. The guidance that I receive from daily experiences, the indications that I am given to regulate my life, these are miracles that I keep experiencing from the Lord’s accompaniment. Holy Ground is where I get to meet my God, those moments when I realize the presence of God, those experiences where God reveals God’s name, those events when I come to grips with Divine within me, those persons who reveal in some way the goodness of the Lord. The most challenging fact is this: wherever I am is a Holy Ground, because God, the I AM, is constantly there with me!
I have no excuses because, I am alerted by regular warnings. Even as I choose to do things that do not really go well with the call that I have received from the Lord, I am warned from within. Even as I see people fumbling and falling, mistaking and missing their way in life, I am given with warnings to change my life, lest I go far far away from the Lord. At times I squander the warnings I receive as I am busy judging people, branding them and writing off their destinies unduly. I need to begin to take the cues all around me and be attentive to the warnings that keep coming my way. Being grounded in my life will take me a long way, for the Holy Ground offers me the right vision and understanding, right nourishment and remedies.
I have no excuses because, I am affirmed with such abundance of love from the Lord. I am given chances after chances, offered countless opportunities and limitless forgiveness from the Lord, that
I may grow over my faults and failures, towards making choices that lead me to fruits that show me to be a true son or daughter of God. At times I take God’s mercies for granted; I decide to live my life the way I like instead of truly understanding the plan and path set for me by my Loving Creator. But the Lord is eternally good, endlessly patient and limitlessly merciful. The Holy Ground offers unending possibilities to life; I can never blame life, if I were up to ruin it all the time. Everything is in my hands and the Lord has given me all possible chances to grow up and bear fruit! The Lord invites me to bear fruit, fruits that will show me to be worthy of the image and likeness that I bear; the Holy Ground holds me, sustains me and nourishes me all along. Am I ready to realize that I stand on the Holy Ground and begin to grow up to bear fruit?
1) We need to live lives of repentance, because (a) we never know when we will meet a tragedy of our own. Let us turn to Christ, acknowledge our faults and failings and receive from him mercy, forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. There is no better way to take these words of Jesus to heart than to go to sacramental confession, and there is no better time to go to confession than during Lent. (b) Repentance helps us in life and in death. It helps us to live as forgiven people and helps us to face death without fear. 2) We need to be fruitful trees in God’s orchard. Lent is an ideal time “to dig around and manure” the tree of our life so that it may bring forth fruits of repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and sensitivity to the feelings of others. 3) We need to make the best use of the “second chances” God gives us. Our merciful Father always gives us second chances. During Lent, too, we are given another chance to repent and return to our Heavenly Father’s love.
Lent is a time when the Church calls us to be attentive to this art of Mercy – to cultivation and to being cultivated in the garden of life. Lent is a word that in its root actually means spring. In Lent, there is always the promise of springtime, there is always the promise of Easter, where once again we can be surprised by grace and reflect back to one another the Art and the Mercy of God.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN