Sunday Reflection - Third Sunday of Lent

Sunday Reflection - Third Sunday of Lent

Posted: Sat, 19 Mar 2022 15:57

Sunday Reflection - Third Sunday of Lent

At the start of this great journey towards Easter, on Ash Wednesday, we received ashes on our foreheads, as the minister prayed with us, 'repent and believe in the Gospel.' Today we are presented with the tragic figure of Moses: he had been brought up in the royal court of Pharaoh. He enjoyed luxury and privilege until he had to flee to the desert, after he had killed an Egyptian taskmaster. He recognised the evil of slavery and saw the persecution of his own people. However, Moses returned that evil with another evil: while he found some degree of peace in the family of Jethro, there was still unfinished business in his life—he needed to show his sorrow and receive the overwhelming forgiveness of God. In the peace and quiet of the desert, with only sheep to worry about, Moses was now free from the demons that tormented him. He was not worthy. He did not deserve any consideration. However, as so often happens, God uses the broken, damaged and compromised for the greater good. Like all of us, Moses cannot hide from the unconditional love of God. It is in that wonderful experience of the burning bush that Moses can experience the power of God in his life. Fully aware of his flaws, God sees the leadership potential of Moses—he is going to lead the Chosen People out of their slavery to the glory of the Promised Land. Fully aware of his humanity and weakness, Moses can have the confidence to go to Pharaoh and make the plea, 'let my people go!' How can this possibly be done by a wanted felon, now working as a shepherd? He can do this because of his trust in 'I am who I am!'
Moses can move forward, aware of the trust that Yahweh has in him.

In our modern world it can sometimes be hard to find that place of real encounter with God. There are so many distractions and worries that we need this sacred time every week to help put our lives back into order. In coming to mass on a Sunday, we experience that sense of community, needed to sustain faith. Of course, we can find God alone in our room or walking the Wild Atlantic Way. However, our Eucharist allows us to make that public repentance as we come together. We can listen to God's Word in sacred scripture and allow those words to penetrate our inmost being and influence us for the good. We can offer our lives to God and remember those who are weakest in our local community—and the world. We share again the story of the Last Supper: it becomes part of our lives. The injunction of the deacon at the end of mass is important and must be lived out: 'go in peace to love and the serve the Lord!' In many ways the real work of the Eucharist begins as we leave church and start another exciting week of challenge and interaction with the people of God.

Moses helps us to see the beauty and grandeur of God that is all around us—sometimes, we really do have to open our eyes! If we have the attitude of true repentance, it will mean that we are open to the gift of forgiveness. While many of us seek that forgiveness for ourselves, we may find it much harder to forgive those who wrong us, as the 'Our Father' demands of us. Like Moses, each of us must realise that we stand on 'holy ground' and show the reverence and respect that this sacred place demands. God heard those cries of his people enduring slavery—through Moses, Yahweh would make a difference, and they would enjoy freedom. In this wonderful world we are given insights of the divine in so many ways—again we need to open our eyes. Whatever our spirit­uality, if we are to become what we were in­tended to be, we need to concern ourselves not with other worlds, but with this world that God has given to us. It is here and now in this life that we need to deepen our awareness of what is around us. We need to be attentive to the place we are in and the people we meet. This includes being properly attentive to our­selves. We cannot love our neigh­bours as ourselves if we do not have a proper respect and love for our own being. In the same way, we cannot really say that we are able to give our attention to God if we have failed to attend to the world and the people around us. I am convinced that those who do not listen carefully to others are not likely to listen with care to the word of God. We need to learn that the way to the Great Other is through other people and things. God speaks to us through his creation. When we respect the otherness of people and creation, the holiness of life is revealed to us. The way to the holy is in the ordin­ary: the ordinary is far more extra­ordinary than we think or imagine. The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning helps us in that simple quest:

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries, And daub their natural faces unaware more and more, from the first similitude. (Aurora Leigh)

I hope you have a great week and enjoy more than just the blackberries! We need to reawaken our senses, and see the potential of each encounter, each person, each blade of grass, each bush, to reveal the glory of God. When the eyes of our hearts are opened in this way, we will see a whole new world, and find that we have occasions for 'alleluia'—even in Lent!

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB
Image: Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

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