Readings for March 24, 2019
Third Sunday of Lent
Year C Readings
Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15
1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Moses was curious by what he saw when a bush “though on fire, was not consumed.” Then he was astounded by what he heard, the voice of God coming from the curious fire. Here, God introduces himself to Moses, instructing him to tell the Israelites that God alone is God, the One who is, was, is now, and is to come. God’s fire is at once frightening and purifying. It is meant to be so, providing a visual example of God’s purifying love: fiery but mercifully unconsuming.
Still, sometimes it can feel consuming. This past week I watched my mom pass from this life. James writes that we are to “consider it all joy” when we are tested in our faith (James 1:2). While this test does not make me happy, I do feel joy knowing that my mother is at peace. But her death was also a reminder to me of how fragile life is for us all, and I have been filled with a renewed sense of urgency to turn toward the Lord and away from my own willful, sinful ways. When we accept God’s abundant mercy and change our sinful ways, we stand secure.
But even once we are secure, Paul warns us not to be be caught “unaware.” My test is ongoing. And one day (or 40 days) without returning to the same sin is good, but it is not enough. When we refuse to change fully, we will fall to God’s judgement. The Lord God is indeed “slow to anger,” but I do not want to risk that He not be pleased with me. Jesus affirms this in a stark rebuke, “if you do not repent, you will all perish.” In both fear and love, I need to seek His way in my life for all of my days.
I have been blessed to be given mercy in my own life. I am confident that when I confess my sins, they are forgiven me. But that confidence must not lead me to think I can continue in sinful ways, relying on God’s unconditional mercy to set me free without judgement for my actions. I must turn to Him in praise, reflect His love to those around me, and strengthen my faith in total dependence in doing His will.
Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is His kindness toward those who fear him. Amen