One God, One People
(3rd Sunday of Lent: Exodus 3:1-15; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Luke 13:1-9)
Today’s parable of the fig tree is found only in the Gospel of Luke. We cannot fail, however, to see the parallel at La Salette. Like the gardener trying to save the tree, the Beautiful Lady presents herself as praying without ceasing for her people.
In the first reading, God says: “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them.” Mary witnessed her people’s sin—in particular the cries of complaint mingled with the name of her Son—but also their suffering. She came down to provide a remedy to both.
St. Paul writes about “our ancestors.” on their way to the promised land. He concludes: “God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did.”
Now few if any of the Corinthian believers were of Jewish descent, and the same is true for us. But our Christian heritage includes the Old Testament, and in other places Paul says explicitly that we are children of Abraham.
We are therefore the one chosen people of the one true God, whose boundlessly mysterious name is “I AM.” What cry does he hear from us today? Do we grumble, or do we turn to the Lord in prayer? Do we derive the full benefit of the spiritual food and spiritual drink that has been given to us?
Good news travels fast, they say. That may be true, but bad news gets more attention. Today’s Gospel mentions two tragic events. Jesus’ response is, “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
That saying may seem uncaring, but it reflects the urgency of Jesus’ mission. So, too, at La Salette, Mary opened her discourse with the words, “If my people refuse to submit.” She had to make an impact.
Both, however, leave ample room for hope. So, let us turn to the Lord with the opening prayer of today’s Mass: “that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy.”
Fr. René Butler and M.S. Wayne Vanasse