On this third Sunday of Lent, we continue the journey of conversion that will lead us to the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection. The liturgy of the Word helps us to understand this path proposed by God and which we tread in together in community.
The first reading presents the figure of Moses and his encounter with the Living and True God. Moses encounters the mystery of a God who is close and present to people’s life. The very name of God makes us understand his presence: “I am who I am,” that is, the God of Scripture is a present God. His presence is not imaginative, neither obscure nor the mere result of a naive conscience. His presence is real.
Psalm 139 celebrates the wonderful presence of God in the lives of human beings, “You know my thoughts from afar…”. God reveals himself to Moses, but his desire is to make himself known to the whole people. And the way God reveals himself, how he wants to be known, and how he loves us is objective, real, tangible, as we hear this Sunday,
And the Lord said to him: I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their cry because of the rigour of them that are over the works: And knowing their sorrow, I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land into a good and spacious land… (Ex 3: 7-8).
God sees and hears the people’s cry; God knows their suffering; He comes down to set them free and bring them out of this situation of death. This Bible verse applies five verbs to demonstrate the action of God, who does not remain impassive in the face of human suffering but acts in their favor. This divine action has much to tell us, especially at a time when, in the name of privacy, we move towards a kingdom of individualism, apathy, and lack of compassion for others and for ourselves… and, finally, we have reached the point of “deleting” people.
In a kingdom like this, where the human being loses his space, God himself is no longer present. Thus, we see the contrast between God who is present in human history and humanity which is increasingly making itself absent from God.
However, the Liturgy brings an invitation from Jesus, conversion! There is only one way to escape from the fatalism of history, that of God, who calls us to be part of his kingdom. Jesus himself, however, indicates that conversion is an option that must be continually remade. Like the fig tree that gets from the farmer all the things necessary to bear good fruit, so too we are, we receive from God the strength and grace to go by the road of life and overcome our limitations. Yet, we need to go by steps, do our part, and respond with concrete attitudes to God’s call.
Conversion is urgent. The Gospel shows us this by presenting a profanation committed by Pilate and an accident in Jerusalem. They “were more sinners?” Jesus asked. “I tell you that no!” – but it is necessary to reflect and to place ourselves on the way of conversion so as not to let our hearts die before God.
How can we follow this path of conversion? Saint Paul helps us here. Alluding to the people of Israel who walked in the desert, whose hunger and thirst were satiated, the Apostle tells us that “all drank from the same spiritual drink and drank from a spiritual rock that accompanied them – and this rock was Christ.
Now, it is to Christ that we must turn in order to follow a complete path of conversion. It is through Him that we truly know God and His Will. Christ is the living Word of God. He is the spiritual food that satisfies and strengthens us through His Word and the Eucharist.
In this Lenten season, we are called, in a more intense way, to seek the face of God through the following of Jesus Christ. Today’s Mass Collection prayer sums up well the purpose of this Lenten season. At first, it says, “O God, source of all mercy and all goodness”; then it tells us how to take advantage of this same goodness and mercy, saying, “You have shown us fasting, almsgiving, and prayer as a remedy against sin”; and concludes by asking God, “accept this confession of our weakness so that, humbled by the conscience of our faults, we may be comforted by your mercy”.
The Responsorial Psalm of this Mass shows us God’s clear desire to forgive us, to help us to walk a path of conversion and openness to God and to others. Therefore, in this Lenten season, encouraged by the power of the Eucharist that we shall receive, let us take advantage of God’s grace and run to the Lord. Let us listen to the advice of the Ecclesiasticus:
Delay not to be converted to the Lord and defer it not from day to day. For his wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance, he will destroy thee. (Ecco 5:8)