As was the case with Abraham

THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [EXODUS 3: 1 – 8a. 13 – 15] records that Moses also had questions and doubts at the time of his call. However, Moses also made a personal decision and was willing to seek something out. “I will turn aside and see this great sight why the bush is not burnt.”

For us the crux of the matter follows immediately:

“when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush.”

I look back on my own life of discipleship and recognise that, as this incident occurred in Moses’ life while he carrying out the ordinary daily routine, I have passed a good many burning bushes but was too self-absorbed and busy to delay, turn aside and investigate. However, what remains valuable is to hear that the moment God saw Moses turn aside … he called to him out of the bush. The Lord was in the bush, in the great sight. Was God the burning bush? How many opportunities have I missed? How many burning bushes I not even seen or noticed?

When God-in-Christ sees us delay, willing to slow down and see him in the unusual (which, very often, are the ‘usual’ of life and living) he responds and speaks to us.

The moment we see and go we

walk on holy ground because we are in the presence of God. Then, to each one of us the Lord says “I have seen (your) affliction …. heard (your) cry … know (your) suffering … and have come to deliver (you).” This is who and what our God really is: “I am who I am.” Why do we find it so difficult to allow God to be God? “The Lord is compassionate and gracious … never forget all his benefits.” {see TODAY’S PSALM {103 or 102]}

Saint Paul in

OUR NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [1 CORINTHIANS 10: 1 – 6. 10 – 121] adds some special advice to those who find it difficult to see the I AM WHO I AM in the burning bushes, stop, turn aside, go to him. “Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” We fall by not acknowledging our need for forgiveness, forgetting all the Lord’s benefits as well as the fact that theLord is compassion and love and “it is the Lord who forgives all your sins.” (see the Psalm) In addition Paul states that “these things are warnings for us.” It was a warning that the people of the Old Testament ignored – “nevertheless with most of them, God was not pleased.”

However, so often we find in so many good people have a reluctance to accept, as our Psalm teaches, the God who

“slow to anger and rich in mercy.” Do we make ourselves willingly available to the mercy of God?

TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 13: 1 – 9]

provides some indications for this reluctance, hesitancy and unwillingness to stop – then go, see and find ourselves standing on the holy ground of the Lord’s mercy. First of all (I am aware of only two) we encounter one of Jesus’ applications of the word guilt in the Gospel message. Do Catholics ‘enjoy’ feeling guilty or hide inactivity behind self-perceived guilt and/ or a pride which prevent them from accepting personal culpability? As long as it is not ‘officially’ a mortal sin we breathe a sigh of relief. Actually, to be in a state of mortal sin means that we have freely chosen to turn permanently from the Lord.

Secondly

, Jesus repeats repent twice in these nine verses. In its essentials repent means to turn aside, go and see, and stand on holy ground. Jesus wants us to REPENT – not to feel guilty. Finally, the fig tree – does it achieve anything? It takes up useful ground and produces nothing. The Lord expects more fruitful results and there are countless occasions when we have manure available to us.

At the end of it all, too many connect the word perish with hellfire. There are other ways to perish. We can perish in the mediocrity of inactivity … of remaining as we are.

 

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