3rd Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme of the week: Nourished by the Eucharist feast, may we reflect on our lives and cleanse ourselves through repentance.
In last week’s First Reading, God made a covenant with Abraham by promising to deliver to him and his descendants the Promised Land. In this week’s First Reading, God made good that promise by calling Moses to lead the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (verse 8). In so doing, God declared that he is “I Am who I Am” or Yahweh, which in Hebrew mean “I am the Existing One, the one true Saviour”.
Beyond God fulfilling his covenant promise to the descendants of Abraham, this text carries a deeper revelation. As Jesus explained in Mt 22, in saying that He is the God of the Patriarchs, the passage validates the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, as “He is God not of the dead, but of the living” (Mt 22:32). The burning bush, the bush that was burnt but not consumed, symbolises our indestructible souls, which on the Last Day will reunite with our resurrected body.
As Moses led the Israelite people through the desert to the Promised Land, the Second Reading explains how the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist were manifested in the Exodus story. In Exodus 16:14-15, God delivered bread from heaven to the Israelites. Then in Exodus 17:6, God made Moses strike a rock and out gushed a fresh spring of water. The bread and water were both from heaven, they were spiritual food and spiritual drink. As they partook in this spiritual feast, the Israelites ceased to be separate tribes and became one people. This is a pre-cursor to the Eucharistic feast that Jesus later instituted. Just like the Exodus story, Christ gives us his body and blood as spiritual food and drink at the Eucharistic table, so that we become one people in him. And just as the spiritual feast nourished the Israelites as they journeyed to the Promised Land, the Eucharist feast nourishes us as we journey toward our Promised Land, heaven. Through the Eucharist, Christ establishes a new covenant with us, that he is our God and we his people; and that by his sacrifice he redeems us from eternal damnation.
In a complimentary message to the Second Reading, the Gospel teaches us the virtue of repentance. The first part of the Gospel text refers to the story of the tower of Siloam, where 18 innocent Galileans where killed by the collapsing tower. Jesus dispelled a common myth at the time that sufferings are inflicted by God in response to a person’s sins. This is not true. In fact, as Jesus pointed out, they were others who sinned but were not punished. It is paramount that these sinners repent their sins. Otherwise, as the parable of the fig tree illustrates, time is running out and they will be destroyed. The carer in the parable of the fig tree symbolises Jesus, who pleaded with the Father for more time, and tried to help the tree to bear fruits by applying manure. But the axe is already at the root of the tree. If we reject Jesus’ teachings, then surely the axe will befall upon us. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us reflect: what areas of my life must I cleans away in order to be a true disciple of Christ? Let us reflect on our lives and cleanse ourselves through repentance.