Third Sunday in Lent (Year C)
Scripture Readings*: Exodus 3:1-15, I Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9, Psalm 63:1-8 (NRSV)
Even desolate areas can be holy when God is present. Moses encounters God in the desert, in the form of a burning bush. The miracle was not that the bush was aflame, but that the fire did not burn out; a visual reminder of the eternal God… who was, is, and forever will be. It’s a visible sign that despite Moses’ inadequacy, God calls him to lead Israel out of bondage.
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Paul illustrates the truth that the God of the Lord Jesus judged Israel for its idolatrous conduct, and that God would do the same to the Corinthians who insist on exercising their right to eat in idol temples, unless they flee from idolatry.
He stresses that 1) idolatry is forbidden, 2) sexual immorality is prohibited, 3) testing (or tempting God) to act brings dire judgment, and grumbling is not acceptable to God.
Jewish belief held that the greatness of calamity somehow indicated the wickedness of sinners. In other words: The greater the calamity, the greater the sin.
Jesus challenges this assumption by drawing from two contemporary examples. His message was clear… the Jewish nation as a whole was sinful in God’s sight, and its members would all suffer the fate of sinners if they did not repent.
Lent: The Great Journey
Moses didn’t know God’s name, yet was chosen to lead God’s people out of captivity. God’s people, who knew of their heritage in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, died in the wilderness. What earned a pagan favor with God? What caused God’s chosen people to die in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land? The answer is found in their response to the journey.
Moses responded to God with humility and obedience. He freely acknowledged his lack of ability – yet was willing to walk toward God’s calling. God’s chosen people grumbled. Doubted. Rather than look expectantly toward the promise ahead, they continued to look back at the life they had left behind.
What is our response to the journey of Lent? Do we look in the rearview mirror, yearning for what we’ve left behind? Or is the promise ahead so compelling, we’re willing to throw ourselves on the mercy of God, trusting Him to help our inadequacies?
Prayer for Third Week in Lent – Almighty God, strengthen and defend me in body and soul, fixing my eyes on the promise of your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C