HOME Homily Archives - Year C Third Sunday of Lent, Year C

Third Sunday of Lent, Year C
Homily. Readings: Exodus 3:1-8; 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9.


Purple Stole and Gospel
Readings: Exodus 3:1-8; 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9

God sends Moses to liberate the Israelites from slavery (First Reading), yet despite all the spiritual blessings they received, they ultimately displeased God through their lack of repentance (Second Reading). Repentance is an urgent message that cannot be put off, and one that must be heard this very day (Gospel).

Time passes slowly when you have no power over your destiny. Slavery was a cruel institution of the ancient world that left its victims bereft of any say over their lives. The Chosen People felt anything but “chosen” as those decades and centuries wore on. They were slaves and every day was like the other, filled with the monotonous routine of stacking bricks, one upon the other, while feeling the cruel lashes of their hardened masters. And it was through the suffering of these people that Pharaoh was able to rise to glory.

But God’s love came to the rescue of Israel. He chose a shepherd named Moses, who felt completely inadequate for the task, in order to liberate his people and to bring them to the Promised Land. God’s power intervened in an unprecedented way, breaking the vice-like grip of Pharaoh. His very name “I AM” symbolized his power-filled presence and omnipotence on behalf of Israel. However, as St. Paul points out, receiving such blessings implies a great responsibility. He recites a veritable litany of God’s blessings that should have been sufficient for the sanctification of Israel, yet many did not heed the spiritual message of repentance contained in the Lord’s redemptive intervention. “God was not pleased with them, for they were struck down in the desert.”

If this sounds familiar, it ought to be. The graces that we receive as Catholics are countless, and at the same time absolutely priceless. Baptism, Eucharist, and reconciliation are just a few of the signs of God’s insurmountable and unsurpassable love for each and everyone one of us. Nevertheless, despite all of the wondrous signs of God’s love present in this world, there is such massive mediocrity among many Catholics. Graces frequently die when they are given to one whose will is not engaged in the pursuit of God’s will.

In the Gospel, Jesus almost seems to be following the format of a newspaper article, recounting some disasters that had occurred in his time. What to make of them? Were the victims just sinners who got what they deserved? No, Jesus replied, but you should take careful note. In a sense, we are all living on borrowed time. We don’t know when our final end will occur or how it will happen. The master of the orchard has come to visit our fig tree…

Time is not a precious commodity. We don’t know how to value it, and we don’t know if we have a lot or a little. Yet that very fact should spur us on, and bring us to repent. God’s justice is seen in the fig tree’s owner who is looking to clear the ground of fruitless trees. His mercy is reflected in the gardener, who wants another year to try to salvage the situation with more water and fertilizer. Certainly God’s mercy is infinite, but our capacity to accept it is not, for we are limited, time-bound creatures … the clock is ticking and we will have to make choices.

Now that we are about halfway through Lent, many of those in Church today will need encouragement. Some of them will have started to waffle on their resolutions, while others may be ashamed that they never had any. The message from today’s readings is: “Take advantage of the graces you receive today!” We can renew our resolve; we can have a fresh start. Hearing the word of the Lord, let’s not put off our repentance for tomorrow!