Lenten Homilies (March 20, 2022)
3rd Sunday of Lent (C)
Ex 3:1-8, 13-15; 1 Cor 10: 1-6,10-12; Lk 13:1-9
How should we perceive our sinfulness? It is so easy for us to see our sins as the cause behind every misfortune we have: that the misfortunes of our lives are what we receive because we have sinned. The opening verses of the Gospel for today reveal the similar thing. But from Jesus’ point of view, sin does not bring about our misfortunes in this world. As we have heard, Jesus pointed out the existence of our sinfulness as our chance to be deeply aware of God’s mercy through Jesus. Jesus said in today’s Gospel parable: leave it one more year and give me time to dig around it and manure it; it may bear fruit next year. In other words, Jesus is the one who is working, trying to help us move our life around, trying to help us to return to the right path so that we can grow and be fruitful. To be aware of our sinfulness is to be aware of the work of mercy Jesus is doing within our hearts.
God’s work of mercy is a mysterious one. But this does not mean that we should abandon it because it is too difficult for us to understand. And this does not mean also that we should be passive and let God do all the work to return us in the right path. God’s work of mercy is mysterious because it attracts us to come closer. Like a moth to a lamp, like a bird migrates guided only by their homing instinct, God’s mysterious work invites our cooperation. Similarly, Moses in the First Reading who were attracted to the flaming bush was also invited to cooperate with God. Once he realized that the flaming bush is the work of the Holy One, Moses was afraid to look at it. Nevertheless, he stripped himself off of his own sandals, and opened himself up to make dialogue with God. He was willing to enter into the dialogue with the Mysterious One. He even dares to ask God: what is the name of the One who sent him to the Egyptians. And God’s reply to him was “I am who I am”. This answer granted him even greater attraction to the mystery which will change the course of his life forever.
Similarly, this is also the process of our conversion. It starts with an attraction to the mysterious work of Jesus in our life: that we are alive until now because Jesus helps us to do so, regardless of our sinfulness. Lent is the time for us to nurture this attraction to Jesus. It is during Lent, that we can experience the process of moving from attraction to Jesus into entering his mystery: his life, death, and resurrection. And just like Moses who was sent on journey to help the Israelites, the process of our conversion will also send us on a journey to live a life worthy of our calling, to help other people, to bring reconciliation between conflicting parties, groups or countries.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are invited to appreciate the mysterious work of God who is trying to make us aware of the grace of salvation from Jesus. Let us start with the first step, the first baby step of Moses, by asking where is the flaming bush of God in our lives?
by Fr. Antonius Firmansyah, SJ.