3rd Sunday of Lent - Our Burning Bushes

In every age, Jesus continues to invite people to have faith in Him as Son of God and Savior. His mission is always the same - to reveal the Father's love to the world. His method is always the same: to give us clear signs, leading us to believe in Him and to serve one another.

burningbushSomething in our human nature leads us to think of "signs" in terms of the miraculous and the extraordinary. Yet during His public life, Jesus revealed His divinity in ordinary ways.

He preached and lived by the simple law of the love of God and the love of neighbor. He taught us how to pray; He showed us the kingdom at God in wine and wheat, in the vineyard and the fisherman's net. He reached out to the sick, the sinner, the widow and the orphan, treating ordinary people with exquisite compassion. But it wasn't enough. His contemporaries demanded signs and wonders, miracles and marvels. Yet, even when they witnessed Him restoring sight to the blind, wholeness to lepers, and life to the dead, they did not believe. They looked for further "proof."

Mankind has always challenged God for proof. In our first reading, Moses was given the extraordinary sign of a burning bush. And yet he hesitated; he questioned. He hid his face and made excuses. He was happy where he was; he was safe - he had no intention of returning to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of bondage.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul deliberately warns us to move away from this kind of complacent faith of habit and false security. Lent is a good time to hear this message. We need to attend to Paul's call to conversion-of-heart. Once we reflect on the lukewarm nature of our faith, we might realize we are standing on insecure ground and then turn again to the more secure footing that is our faith in Jesus and a life that better conforms to His. Down through the centuries the voice of God still thunders from Mt. Sinai - and the warning from Paul is just as forceful.

Bushes don't just blaze for Moses. They blaze for us as well. And when a bush blazes, we must respond, we must turn from our complacency and discover what awaits us. Perhaps it is some terrible burden that makes us investigate the blazing bush in hope of a better life. Perhaps it is some sense of wonder that leads us there, our desire for the eternal. In any case, we must turn aside and draw near if we are to hear the bush call out to us and set us on our way. God is not interested in our abilities or in our disabilities. He is interested only in our availability.

A bush blazes when some person or place or moment reaches out to us, calling us insistently by name. A bush blazes when our pain and sorrow, our joy and laughter and our suffering and grief together speak with heaven's voice. A bush blazes when something demands that us put aside our masks, and live from the center deep within us. A bush blazes when we take what action we can for others, and find in this risk our abundant freedom.

Such bushes blaze forth every day, in every life. We must dare to listen to them!

During the Lenten season, we are called to a deeper faith. God has revealed himself to us in a much more amazing way than He did for Moses. Instead of speaking to us from a burning bush, God has spoken to us by sending His Son. We are invited to gaze again at the image of Christ crucified, and find in that image the only sign we need. During this holy season, Jesus leads us to a newer intimacy with Him and with the mystery of His suffering, death and resurrection.

In that mystery, He promises us power and wisdom and peace. In that mystery, He forgives our guilt, and patiently cultivates our lives so that we, too, might bear much fruit. In that mystery, He offers us the one perfect sign, the answer to all of our needs, the ultimate goal of all of our seeking.

Reflection for Third Sunday of Lent Cycle A