Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, March 3, 2013
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
March 3, Third Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11
2) 1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
There is the burning bush and then there is the not-so-burning bush. That's what this weekend's readings offer us.
The first is the classic story of Moses recognizing God's presence -- a bush burning not to be consumed but aflame with his life. Such a moment of clarity is what comes to believers -- sometimes only briefly -- when they know beyond doubt that God is with them.
The Gospel reading includes Jesus' parable of a bush that shows no signs of life. It hasn't produced fruit because it has been neglected. The gardener realizes he's responsible for nurturing the potential life in the plant.
In my experience, the two are the same bush.
I can remember several burning-bush moments. One was on my first silent retreat when 40 years of life experience were put into context with just the right words from a Jesuit retreat master, so that I suddenly understood who "I AM" was.
Another time was during celebration of the Eucharist a day after I'd held a malnourished Haitian child in my arms, and I heard in a new (burning) way, "This is my body."
I soon learned that I needed to return regularly to places or situations where God waited for me to see him again and stir up the life of his presence. Going on retreat every year was one way to conscientiously remember God's working in my life and be inspired to respond both in ministry and in my relationships with other people. I also returned to Haiti periodically, to be touched by the deep faith of people living and loving despite constant hardship.
But when I get busy or distracted with other things and become inattentive to God, the burning bush becomes the neglected bush of the Gospel parable. As I pursue selfish interests, shallow concerns and pettiness can suck the life out of what was once fertile spiritual ground.
The season of Lent calls us to focus on the burning bush of God's presence in our lives and urges us to nurture the ground he allows us to share with him. If we make a commitment to constantly return to him in prayer or action, we will be blessed by the richness of the fruit produced.
How do you go about revisiting moments when God has revealed his presence to you? In what ways can you nurture these experiences to help increase God's reign?
SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:
"Leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down." -- Luke 13:8-9
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