03 March 2013


Third Sunday of Lent
Lk 13:1-9 (Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15 / Ps 103 / 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12)

In my preaching and spiritual direction, I often say that we lose only people we love.  The truth is people we love lesser are people we don’t notice even when they are already lost.  Sadly, some who are not loved at all are even told to get lost.  But people we love?  Oh, we always notice them.  Even when they are not around, we tend to connect almost anything good to them, if not in actual conversation with others, at least in our colloquy with our self.

Though sometimes, we are physically apart from them, the people we love are ever present in our awareness.  When we forget the people we say we love, it may be because we are lying when we say so.  And when we fail to notice them or start disregarding them, we should not question why they doubt the quality of our love.  To ignore people and yet claim to love them is blatant lie.  Yes, indeed, we cannot love people we do not even, frankly speaking, give a damn.  While the hopeless romantics claim that love is blind, the truth of loving dictates that one who truly loves cannot play blind to the beloved.

Love presupposes awareness.  Love grows in awareness.  Love heightens awareness.  Because we love the people we love, we pay attention to what is going on in their lives.  We notice them because we care about them.  We are involved with them.  When we care for people, we pay attention to what is going on in their lives.

God loves us more than we know.  He is, therefore, not only ever aware of us but is also intensely involved with us.  He notices not only us but also what happens to us.  He pays attention to what is going on in our lives because He cares for us.  When we cry to Him with a bleeding heart, He does not say, “I don’t want to know.”  And when we run to Him with a heart thrilled to share the joy it contains, He never tells us, “Who cares?”  In laughter and tears, in victory and defeat, in good times and in bad, we know that God is not only interested in us but is also personally engaged with what is happening to us.  As we go through this year declared as the Year of Faith, we should give witness even more to our belief in the God who says, “I know.  I care.  I am who am.”

In fact, that is exactly His name: “I am who am”.  According to our first reading today, no one else but Himself gave that name to Moses.  From a burning bush, God called out to Moses and introduce Himself as the God of his ancestors.  Moses, realizing it was God who was talking to him, became frightened and hid his face.  But he soon realized, too, that the sufferings of his people were not hidden from God and that God was not afraid to get Himself involved with them.  And as Moses was commanded by God to remove the sandals from his feet before he steps any further on holy ground, God also revealed to him that He always had His eyes on the Israelites and was actually stepping in deeper into their very lives: “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 from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land….”  Such a revelation confirmed the hope of Moses and his people: “So, God does see what is happening to us!”  The same revelation funded their trust in Him: “So, God does care about us afterall!”  Still the same revelation encouraged them to have faith in God even more: “So, God is not only on our side but is actually already intervening to change our life for the better!”  This revelation is the heart of the whole Old Testament.  Thus the psalmist sings today: “The Lord is kind and merciful.”

God introduced Himself to Moses and also, later on, manifested Himself to the whole of Israel as a God of action, moved to act on what He sees and hears.  “I am who am,” His name He gave.  He is who He is.  Even now, even to us, even forever, God is who He is.  He is unchanging, ever present, always involved, eternally loving, and effectively acting for our good by freeing us from whatever and whoever enslaves us.

As we are reminded once again about the Exodus event during this Lenten season, God’s name – “I am who am” – affirms His constant and consistent fidelity to us.  But how is our fidelity to Him?  Do we trust Him enough for Him to freely move in our life?  Do we really believe that He cares about what is happening to us?  He is involved with us; are we involved with Him?  He wants us to be free, but until when will we allow our selves be enslaved by sin?

The Apostle Paul is quick to remind us in the second reading today that no matter how much God loves us and wants only what’s best for us, there are consequences to the choices we make.  Many among them whom God, through Moses, led out of Egypt, fed their hunger, and cared for in the wilderness were “struck down in the desert” because while their shoulders were freed from the burden of slavery their hearts remained enslaved to sin.  Thus, the Apostle points to those “struck down in the desert” as “examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things as they did and grumble as some of them did, and suffer death by the Angel of Destruction.”  He, therefore, encourages us to be take to heart our Christian life.

As God pays attention to what is happening in our life, so should we pay attention with what we do with our life.  If God cares so much for our freedom, why should we be less vigilant in never allowing sin to enslave us?  Not considering our selves less deserving of misfortunes than others because we stand less guilty of sin than they do, we should rather go into periodic self-examination, conversion, and renewal.  Lent is a special time for that!

But how have we been spending Lent so far?  Have we gone to confession?  Have we joined a retreat or a recollection?  Have we been applying our selves generously and sincerely to the call of the season to pray better, sacrifice better, and give better?  We are entering today the third week of Lent already, and if we have not yet been going through the season properly, when do we plan to do so?  May we never abuse the chances that God gives us, for while the Gospel today tells us that our God, indeed, is the God of many chances, there is always a last chance, at least not from God’s point of view because He is infinite, but from ours because we are finite.  Only, we just don't know when that last chance is.

May this Lenten season truly bear abundant fruits in your life and mine, for God cares so much to see how we are doing but will never save us unless with Him we are cooperating.


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