Third Sunday of Lent - Msgr. Simas

As we enter the halfway point of Lent, we hear the psalmist tell us, “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” Ps. 103 We are not journeying alone, the Lord is with us.

Today’s readings remind us to be open and receptive to encountering God in our everyday lives. The Gospel echoes the focus on repentance from the beginning and ending of Lent and the necessity of growing along the way, of personal conversion.

In the first reading, Moses, unexpectedly encounters God in a burning bush. God tells Moses, “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…” Ex.

In our second reading, recalling past human failures in history, St. Paul encourages us to be vigilant as we make our Lenten journey.

In the Gospel, Jesus affirms the realities of death and also the need to repent from sins. He insists that his followers must grow, change and repent from sin throughout life, saying directly “I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish.” Paraphrasing a former school principal, Jan Cooper, “what part of ‘if you do not repent’ doesn’t understand?’”

Jesus offers the parable of the fig tree as a way to reflect on what repentance entails.

Some of the early Fathers of the Church tell us thatthe compassionate gardener, who begs that the fruitless fig tree not be cut down, is Jesus, who intercedes for us until the end of time:“Wait a little while, (the gardener says), I shall cultivate the ground around the tree and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.” LK We are given time to reflect upon, repent, and amend our shortcomings.

As in Moses’ time, God continues to act among us, seeking people willing to wonder, to fall in love with God, and then to act accordingly.

不要害怕

當我們進入這個四旬期的中途點時,聖詠告訴我們,“上主富於仁愛寬恕,極其慈悲,遲於發怒”。祂提醒我們,在這個朝聖的旅途上,我們並不孤獨,天主與我們同行。

今天的讀經提醒我們要敞開心靈,隨時準備在日常生活中與天主相遇。福音也呼應了對四旬期中要求我們悔改的重點。尤其是每個人在這段時間內,不斷地轉變,與成長的必要性。 讀經一說到,梅瑟無意間在燃燒的灌木叢中遇到了天主。上主說:「我看見我的百姓,在埃及所受的痛苦;聽見他們因工頭的壓迫,而發出的哀號;我已注意到他們的痛苦。所以我要下去,拯救他們」讀經二聖保祿宗徒回顧過去人類在歷史上的失敗,鼓勵我們保持警惕,在四旬期時要小心,免得跌倒。在福音中,耶穌指出了死亡的必然性,也告訴了我們需要悔改的迫切。他堅持基督徒必須終生不斷地成長,改變,並且悔罪。祂直截了當地說,「我告訴你們,如果你們不悔改,你們都要同樣喪亡」。套一句前校長 Jan Cooper 的話,她問,”耶穌的這一句話 ‘如果你不悔改’,到底哪一點你們聽不懂?”

你們可以看出來,耶穌用無花果的比喻來告訴我們,我們依靠的是什麼。早期的教父告訴我們,這個富有同情心,為無花果樹求情的園丁正是耶穌。此時此刻,直到世界的終結,耶穌都在為我們求情。園丁說,「等一下!等我在它周圍掘上土,加上糞;如果結果子,便算了;不然的話,你就把它砍掉。」耶穌為我們求情,讓我們有時間反省,悔改,來修正我們的缺點。

天主是良善的而且富有耐心。就像在梅瑟的時代一樣,天主不斷地與我們互動,尋找那些想知道,因驚異而愛上天主的人。那些願意採取相稱的行動,被召喚成為天主的子女的人。

天主的聖名用了一個動詞“存在”,祂正是“我是”的意思。無論你是被天主奧妙的聖名,或是他神奇的創造所吸引,天主吸引我們,就像祂吸引梅瑟一樣。這個宇宙充滿了具有各種不同的名稱,像燃燒的灌木叢一樣的奧蹟。我們持續的領受了天主創造的給予,使我們進入一個與梅瑟一樣的,不斷地愛的生命。天主創造,並經由創造,來分享人類的歡樂、希望、悲傷,和焦慮。不僅我們,而且整個世界都會被天主不滅的愛火點燃。

今天,耶穌邀請我們成為天主的工具。通過我們,天主將祂的愛,和仁慈,傾注到世界上。想到這一點,並且鑑於目前在烏克蘭發生的事情,願我們張開雙臂,熱情接待在這需要的時候,可能會來尋求我們幫忙的烏克蘭難民。在這件事上,波蘭為我們提供了一個很好的,如何來接納難民的例子。今天如果我們接受天主的邀請,我相信我們會接受,成為耶穌的愛,善良,和仁慈的工具,我們就必須像基督一樣的,彼此接受,彼此相愛。