Reflection for Sunday – February 28
Readings: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; 1Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9 Reflection by Sr Mary Ann Brunett
It’s halfway through Lent and in the Psalm response we hear that “the Lord is kind and merciful.” What a wonderful reminder during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Right about now we may need to be nudged a bit about keeping our Lenten resolutions!
Today’s Scriptures bring to mind God’s gracious mercy shown both through God’s desire to deliver an oppressed people and God’s patience with a sinful, often judgmental people.
They also remind us that God is not a “god-out-there-somewhere” but a God who is actively present in human history and in human lives.
Moses is a good example of this. While performing an everyday ordinary task, tending flocks, Moses notices something extraordinary—a fire flaming out of a bush! Not only that, but as it burns, the bush is not consumed.
Curious, Moses goes to check on this spectacle and is confronted by something else extraordinary—a voice calling him to come nearer, to remove his sandals, for he is standing on Holy Ground! Despite his past, that of a fugitive who murdered an Egyptian, God chose Moses to free the Israelites from their years of slavery. Was this “an accidental epiphany”? I don’t think so.
Over and over again in the Scriptures we read stories of God calling the least expected to do God’s work.
If you remember, we first heard of a man named Saul who was a self-righteous man who did everything he could to persecute those who believed in Jesus. After his extraordinary conversion, he took the name Paul and became a steadfast follower of Jesus. In our second reading, Paul encourages all to learn from their mistakes of the past so they would not repeat them.
It is always easy to find fault and cast blame. Yet Paul, during this holy season of Lent, challenges us to level no accusations against others. Our task is to stand humbly before God and give an accounting of ourselves, and only of ourselves. Each of us is a work in progress—sometimes we succeed—sometimes we fail. God’s grace and mercy offers each of us a chance to repent, to learn from our mistakes, to change, become better persons and share God’s love for us with others.
The message of withholding judgment of others and of ourselves is Jesus’ message to us in today’s Gospel. In his time, and unfortunately in ours, people often judge themselves and one another and blame such things as illness, tragedies or poverty on a person’s sinfulness—as a punishment from God.
Jesus tried to correct this thinking when he asked: “Do you think these Galileans suffered this way or did the 18 die when a tower collapsed on them because their guilt was more than those who did not suffer or die? By no means,” Jesus said. One suffered because of one man’s depraved human heart; the others died because of a collapse of a faulty tower.
These are inevitable aspects of life in an imperfect world, not because of God’s judgment. Those who think they are so sure they will be saved need to be careful. There is no room in anyone for self-justification.
We can look at these kinds of unexpected tragedies as warnings. None of us knows what’s going to happen at any given moment. If we are as alert and observant as Moses was when he saw the burning bush, we can look at these incidents as a call to examine our own lives and see what we need to do to be ready when we’re called to make a final accounting of ourselves before God.
Like Moses, Paul, the fig tree, each day, each moment of everyday gives us a second chance to change what needs to be changed in our hearts, in our lives, to be fruitful followers of Jesus Christ. God‘s patience, compassion and mercy are far more generous to us than we are to others. Like the fig tree we do not have forever to become the persons God has called us to be. But we do have the rest of the gift and graces of this Lent to come closer to answering that call.