Cross + Roads ~ Problems & Presence
Our Bible readings ( Mass Readings second Sunday of Lent ) this Second Sunday of Lent bring us to the heart of this season of renewal. They bring us to God’s gift to us, the gift of repentance. This grace often has negative connotations. But if we allow the light of Scripture to show us the way we experience that repentance is a gift and grace we all need. We grow in this grace as we grow through the realities of the journey of life as we experience PROBLEMS, we can grow in REPENTANCE that leads us to His PRESENCE.
PROBLEMS: Our world seems flooded with problems. Economic upheaval, violence, even in the Church the media (and some Catholics) would see the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI as a huge problem. And in our own lives, health, budgets, family, workplace issues all offer an abundant menu of problems on which to feed. Scriptures today, from the story of Moses and the Burning Bush through to the Gospel speak of problems to illustrate a reality of human life, a reality we all share. We have problems.
Some are problems such as Moses encountered as he went about, minding his own business, a bush that was burning, but… not burning up…and in the bush an angel of the Lord was speaking, calling Him. This wasn’t a bad thing per se…but it was a huge problem for Moses. He couldn’t get his head around what he was experiencing. He couldn’t solve this problem with his understanding.
In the Gospel Jesus is challenged by the people with the news events of the day. Accidents, tragedies, real problems for the victims. Those questioning Christ were doing what seems a favorite human pastime…seeking who was at fault, who was to blame.
St. Paul in his writing to the church at Corinth, a church beset with problems, reminds us of these challenges, and the solution by the example of those who had followed God before.
But Jesus responds to those challenging Him with both the solution and a greater challenge…REPENTANCE.
REPENTANCE: In the Gospel the word “repent” is from the Greek word: “metanoeo” which means to literally “change ones mind”. It is as we journey through life we are given crossroads, places, times where we have opportunity to change our minds, change the direction we are headed. The season of Lent is given us to grow in this grace, this gift. Repentance is not meant to be confined to Lent alone. It is a grace we are to be strong in throughout all our journey.
Repentance doesn’t just mean “turning away from sin”. It means turning away from something, some activity to something better…turning to God, His plan for our lives.
Moses was not sinning by caring for his father-in-laws sheep. He was doing a necessary and good work. But God had something more important. From leading sheep God was calling Moses to leads His people to the promised land. Moses changed his direction, his mind, from caring for sheep to doing what God was leading him to do.. and to be.
Jesus in the dialogue with those challenging Him used those real problems to remind us all we are called to be a people of repentance. We are called to turn away from whatever hinders us from following Him. This may mean letting go of events in the past, or struggles with people in our lives. In repentance God may not free us from those circumstances as we would want. He may not free us from all memory or awareness of our own brokenness. He will call us simply follow Him. In the parable of the barren fig tree we are given an insight into repentance. The gardener asked that he be able to break up the ground and fertilize the barren tree. So it is with repentance. It is as we allow God to break up the soil of our soil and to, with the problems, the failings, the sins of which we repent God will then use them, as it were, for compost by which to help us grow fruitful for Him.
This work of real repentance will bring us to grow in God’s Presence.
PRESENCE: It is as we seek and allow the Holy Spirit, God’s angels and saints, His Holy Word to leads us we are brought to turn away, to let go, of all the stuff and stumblings of our lives and to turn to grow in His Presence.
Moses grew from the burning bush experience to follow and grow in the Presence of God. He did not do so perfectly. He had other opportunities to repent, to turn at the crossroads of life.
Jesus calls us in the Gospel to let the Holy Spirit lead us to examine our souls, our lives and to seek to grow in what is better, the mercy and will of God. The Psalm would remind us of the depth and scope of that mercy we are called to know. We experience His mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation, in the acts of repentance we share with others in our life and with our God. As Jesus did with those wanting to focus on the problems of others so He does with us. He calls us not to focus on others but on Him and our relationship with Him
He calls us to His Presence to know and grow in Him and from which to share with others the way of the Cross to the Presence of He who conquered evil, sin and death, the greatest of all problems.
[Cyber-version of homily for the Second Sunday of Lent]