3rd Sunday of Lent ~ 20 March 2022 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13- 15; Responsorial: Psalm 103; II: I Corinthians 10: 1-6, 10-12; Gospel: Luke 13: 1-9
This 3rd Sunday of Lent, in this year of our Lord, 2022 comes a day before the start of spring. We have come to the mid-point of our Lenten pilgrimmage and our hearts. Our lives are called to grow ever further from the poisons of sin and false allurements of this world. And we are called to follow ever closer to He who was crucified and He who has risen from the dead, for us.
This season of growing hope and life is reflected in our gardens, the parkland paths and the trails among our mountains and coastland. I am reminded of my younger days working and living in the Redwoods. It was there I heard Christ’s call to repentance for the first time from the Gospel of Creation and was led by the mercy of the Holy Spirit to God’s Word and the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.
It was in the ancient garden that God first walked and talked with Adam and Eve, and in holy love had to confront the deadly reality of their sins. And it would be in a garden that Jesus would wrestle with the human qualms He faced as God’s Son to die for us, again in holy love. And for us He would greet the women coming to the tomb to mourn and then resurrect theri faith, in the full joy of holy love.
At this point in Lent, in our lives, and in our struggling world we are called by the Holy Spirit to again walk in God’s garden of spirit and life. In our reading from the Book of Exodus we visit Moses, early in his dawning walk with God. Moses is out among the hills, tending the sheep of his father-in-law. While working at the tasks of the monment Moses sees a bush. A burning bush. A burning bush that is not consumed by the fire. Moses knows what he is seeing but his rational understanding cannot make sense of what he is witnessing. But within the soul of this prophet to be was a precious seed, the seed of faith. Perhaps from the passionate heat of the flames the seed of faith sprouts and growing overcomes the barriers his mind and human understanding have built to truly see the burning bush as something more. It is then he hears, for the first time God speaking to his heart and the call to Moses from God, to that holy ground was realized.
The influence of Scripture in our world is seen in our walk in the garden today. Many plants have names, botanical and common, rooted deep in Biblical stories and truths. The beautiful Burning Bush is a living vibrant example and reminder of God’s call to Moses, and to each of us to realize and grow in our walk on the holy ground of His will. This season of Lent have we allowed God’s Spirit to prune away the dead and sin weakened parts of our lives? Is the passion and fire of God, which can never die, burning with in us a hunger for Jesus, His holy voice? His sacred Presence?
Our path in God’s garden brings us now to an old fig tree. And from the Gospel we are reminded that Jesus, by all indications loved His figs. Frequent were the times he used this tree-friend of His to teach his disciples, and us of the necessity of faith, perseverance.. and fruitfulness. God created this distinct tree whose delicious fruit is not truly a fruit but the inverted blossoms of the fig tree flowers. God’s creativity and imagination knows no limits! And as we might rest under an old fig tree we can be renewed with the truth that just has created the fig tree so are we created by His hands. We cannot imagine that for which we are created for by God. Perhaps, like many old fig trees we may see hard times of drought and difficulty. The holy lives of the saints of old and of today teach that even when battling sickness, fires, floods or wars we are called and empowered to be growing. Our roots growing more deeply into the love of God that will never fails us. And branching out in graces of peace and hope even when times seem hopeless. In our Lenten journey with Jesus let Him help us to see how, where He longs for us to grow more in His gifts and fruitfulness.
Perhaps you may understand the need, the longing to walk in God’s garden. A very real and poignant means to share such walks is in and with our Blessed Mother and her holy rosary. Take the time to prayerfully walk each of the mysteries. Consider each Hail Mary as a beautiful white rose and each Our Father as a rich red rose. Each of the roses forming a faith floral part of our bouqet we bring to Mary and her Son. As we reflect on each mystery in the Light of Scripture may our focus grow ever clearer upon…Jesus. It is as we abide and grow together with our Lord we will be able to share the beautiful spiritual bouquets that show in our actions and our words: “The Lord is Kind and merciful.”